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Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/how-problems-americas-food-stamps-program-affect-poor-childrens-attainments-school\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n How Problems with America\u0027s Food Stamps Program Affect Poor Children\u0027s Attainments at School\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholar\/anna-gassman-pines\u0022\u003EAnna Gassman-Pines\u003C\/a\u003E, Duke University\n \u003Cp\u003E\n At school the achievements of poor children lag behind those of their higher-income peers. Although many factors lead to such gaps seen in school achievement, life outside of school has an especially strong effect on how poor children fare at school. To give some examples, researchers have learned that poor children are exposed to more environmental toxins, family instability, and overcrowded or unsafe housing arrangements. Each of these kinds of problematic living conditions can hurt children\u2019s performance at school.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Social safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program \u2013 previously officially called Food Stamps and still widely known by that name \u2013 are meant to soften the effect of economic deprivations on low-income families and children. Once a month, Food Stamps allocations provide cash-like benefits that low-income individuals and families can use to purchase food. Although this program gives important support to low-income families, there is growing evidence that benefit levels are insufficient for many. As a result, poor beneficiaries may vary their food shopping and food and caloric intake throughout the month \u2013 tending to spend and eat more right after they get a new infusion of benefits, and spend and eat less when their allocations run low. My research takes account of this unevenness in food security to explore how the performance of poor children on the tests schools administer to measure achievements at the end of each grade year could be affected by the timing of their family\u2019s food benefits. Because both nutrition and the stress associated with economic instability are related to children\u2019s achievements at school, children in families that receive Food Stamps may fare differently depending on when their household has last received a new infusion of this benefit.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EResearch on the Impact of Benefit Timing on Test Performance\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n In fact, research shows that children\u2019s test performance varies depending on how recently their families received Food Stamps \u2013 with performance hitting peaks between two and three weeks after a new benefit transfer arrives. Imagine two children in the same school sitting down to take their end-of-grade tests on the same day. One child\u2019s family just received their Food Stamp benefits and the other received their benefits three weeks earlier. The second child, I find, tends to score slightly higher than the first on both reading and math tests. And even a small difference can matter, because the second child would be more likely to meet state standards for grade level proficiency. Meeting such grade level standards affects whether children can advance to the next grade.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n This study took place in North Carolina, where the timing of Food Stamps transfers depends on the last digit of the household head\u2019s Social Security number. Those with numbers ending in \u201c1\u201d get benefits on the third of each month; those with numbers ending in \u201c2\u201d get benefits on the fifth of each month, and so on. This pattern helped my research, because on test day the only difference among children was the last digit of their parents\u2019 social security numbers. In a randomly determined way, some children were taking the test after a couple of weeks of healthy eating while others were taking the test after their family had very possibly recently had less food. This random pattern made me confident that differences in test scores were actually influenced by the timing of Food Stamp benefit transfers and not because of some other kind of systematic difference among parents or families, such as how close they lived to a grocery store. I could feel certain that when poor kids take tests two to three weeks after their families got a new infusion of Food Stamps they scored higher than kids who took tests right after their families got new infusions.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Various subsets of children had different experiences, I found. Girls seem to be more affected than boys, possibly because they spend more time preparing food in their households. And schoolchildren with much younger siblings were not affected by the timing of Food Stamps, perhaps because their families are likely to have additional benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children program. By contrast, I found strong effects on the test performance of schoolchildren without younger siblings, whose families do not have access to the additional food program.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n My study focused only on end-of-grade achievement tests, but of course the Food Stamps benefit cycle occurs every month and thus may very well affect children\u2019s performance in everyday school activities across the entire year. During periods every month when their families have less access to food, poor children may be less able to learn because their capacities to do cognitive tasks or pay careful attention may be reduced by hunger or the reverberations of stressful family conditions. Even if such lowered learning days happen only for parts of each month, the detrimental effects could accumulate over the school year, contributing to gaps in school achievement between low-income and high-income children.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EReform that Could Boost School Performance\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n The fact that Food Stamps are currently insufficient to meet the needs of many poor families throughout the month has been well documented. My research provides further evidence that this insufficiency hurts poor children\u2019s school performance. Two reforms could make things better:\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003EIf poor families were able to opt for more frequent Food Stamp increments, rather than take the full allotment at once, they might be able to buy food more evenly throughout the month. This would not help all families, but it could help some \u2013 without increasing costs.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cul\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003ELarger Food Stamps benefits would likely also reduce economic instability. When the federal government temporarily expanded food benefits through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, families could more readily afford food. Such a change could be costly, but it would likely improve school performance and other outcomes for poor children.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n Although the current incarnation of Food Stamps in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is a critical part of the U.S. safety net, my findings contribute to a growing body of research showing that the lump-sum delivery of insufficient benefits leaves many poor families unable to provide adequate meals throughout the month, hurting the school performance of many children. Reforms could create greater security for poor families and boost their children\u2019s performance at school, reducing achievement gaps between low and higher income Americans.\u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003E\u0026nbsp; \u0026nbsp; \u0026nbsp;\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022left\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholars.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholars.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable align=\u0022right\u0022 border=\u00220\u0022 cellpadding=\u00221\u0022 cellspacing=\u00221\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n December 2017\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u0026nbsp;\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/how-problems-americas-food-stamps-program-affect-poor-childrens-attainments-school\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=41009\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]