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PAIA Doctoral Student Receives Grant for SNAP Research

September 11, 2023

Clay Fannin was awarded $25,000 to continue research he began with professors Colleen Heflin and Len Lopoo.

Clay Fannin, a doctoral student in the Maxwell School’s Public Administration and International Affairs Department, has received a $25,000 grant from Tufts University to support his dissertation research on the impacts of COVID-era changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on participation outcomes.

Clay Fannin headshot
Clay Fannin

The project began in June 2023 and runs through November 2024. It builds on research Fannin began in 2020 with Colleen Heflin, associate dean, chair and professor of public administration and international affairs, and Leonard M. Lopoo, professor of public administration and international affairs, Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics and director of the Maxwell X Lab. Their work, published this past July in the American Review of Public Administration, explored the federal removal of the SNAP interview requirement in 10 county-administered states during the pandemic. They found that waiving the interview requirement increased SNAP caseloads, suggesting that the interview imposed an administrative burden on clients.

Fannin’s dissertation will expand on this research, using administrative data on SNAP participants in Virginia to analyze how interview waivers affected SNAP participation stability and whether SNAP households enrolled in other safety net programs. “The results will have implications for policymakers considering extending SNAP interview waivers beyond the COVID emergency period or eliminating interviews for other safety net programs,” Fannin says.

The grant was provided by Tufts through the RIDGE Partnership, which stands for Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics. It supports research on federal nutrition assistance programs. Fannin is one of three recipients of the dissertation grant this year.

Fannin says receiving a RIDGE grant is gratifying and a sort of “return on the ‘labor investment’” put into the proposal. “Competition is fierce,” he says, “receiving grant funding…provides an external endorsement of the scholarly merit of my research agenda.”

Previously, Fannin worked as a policy analyst at The Council of State Governments. He specializes in social policy work and research.

By Sophia Moore

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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