nizations by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education in a manner that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence” (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2005).

  • Provide data on household food security that can be used along with other information collected in surveys to assess the need for and effectiveness of public programs, especially food assistance programs; the causes of food insecurity at various levels of severity; and the effects of food insecurity on nutrition, health, children’s development, and other aspects of well-being.

  • Provide measures of food security for use in state, local, and special population surveys that can be compared meaningfully with national food security statistics.

USDA began measuring food security in 1995 with the first fielding of the Food Security Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) by the U.S. Census Bureau.1 In working together to develop the supplement, USDA and DHHS sought advice from a large group of federal agencies, academic researchers, and private organizations. In 1994, the two agencies sponsored the First National Conference on Food Security Measurement and Research, which brought together experts from government, academia, and other researchers in the field. One of the key purposes of the conference was to develop consensus on the appropriate conceptual basis for a national measure of food insecurity. It also resulted in a working agreement about the best method for implementing the measure in national surveys (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1995).

After extensive assessment of the food security questionnaire and field testing by the U.S. Census Bureau, a food security survey questionnaire was fielded by the bureau as a supplement to the CPS.


The full Food Security Supplement includes more than 50 questions about food behavior and experiences. Within this supplement is a set of 10 questions for households with no children and 18 questions for households with children, which is used to estimate the prevalence of food insecurity.

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