Michael Ponza

Michael Ponza

Senior Fellow; Director of Human Services
Areas of Expertise
  • Nutrition
  • Family support
  • Education
  • Education
  • Nutrition
  • Strengthening and Disseminating Research
  • Nutrition and Food Assistance Programs
  • Food Security and Hunger
About Michael

Michael Ponza is an expert in food and nutrition programs and policies with expertise in directing large-scale operations.

Ponza currently directs a congressionally mandated evaluation examining the impacts of innovative Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) Pilots in 10 states on the employment and earnings and dependence on public assistance of SNAP participants. He also is directing the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study, which is examining the effects of new nutrition standards on school meal programs’ food service operations, nutrition quality of meals, meal costs, and student participation and dietary intakes.

Ponza also directed and served as principal investigator for the first national study of payment errors in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and served as quality assurance advisor for the second generation of that study. He has taken a lead role on many other large-scale studies, including assessments of SNAP, infant feeding practices, and school meal programs. He was recently the director of operations for the What Works Clearinghouse, a large-scale project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to bring trustworthy answers to decision makers in education.

Before joining Mathematica, Ponza was on staff at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He publishes in a variety of journals, including the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Economic Outlook USA, and Public Opinion Quarterly, and presents research findings to policy, practitioner, and professional groups. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

Key Projects
  • School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS)

    The School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study provides data on a broad array of topics, including critical information about the food and nutrient content of school meals, the costs of school meals, the food environments in schools, and the contribution of school meals to children's overall diets.

Related Case Studies