Universal food security program and nutritional intake: evidence from the hunger prone KBK districts in Odisha
This article provides evidence on the role of consumer food subsidies in improving nutritional intake and diet quality by evaluating the expansion of the government food assistance program coverage in the hunger prone state of Odisha in India. In 8 districts of Odisha, popularly known as the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region which is notable for extreme poverty and starvation deaths, the government did away with the targeted food assistance program in 2008 and made the scheme universal. Using a Difference-in-Difference methodology over two repeated cross sectional household surveys, this article finds that the shift from targeted to a universal food security program in the KBK region of Odisha has led to an improvement in the household nutritional intake and diet quality. Further examination suggests that proportion of households consuming below the recommended dietary allowance of calorie, fats and protein has declined significantly in this region post the intervention.