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Measuring Food Insecurity and Hunger: Phase 1 Report
Food insecurity: Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.
Hunger: The uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food, the recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food. Hunger may produce malnutrition over time…. Hunger … is a potential, although not necessary, consequence of food insecurity.
While the developers of the USDA’s food security supplement decided that food security was the most important concept to measure, some in the group charged with developing the measure of food insecurity specifically called for hunger to be part of the measurement project, because the use of estimates of the prevalence of hunger was thought to be an important device for advocacy (Habicht et al., 2004).
FOOD SECURITY MEASUREMENT
The Food Security Supplement to the Current Population Survey and the measurement scale are based on the underlying LSRO definitions. The Food Security Supplement contains a battery of questions for households responding to the CPS regarding various aspects of the availability and sufficiency of food. (The CPS is a representative national sample of about 60,000 households conducted monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Department of Labor. It is based on a random sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population and is the primary source of information on labor force characteristics of the U.S. population.) The supplement has been conducted annually each year since 1995. From 1995 to 2000 the supplement alternated between April and August/September; beginning in 2001 it has been conducted in early December. While the full supplement includes more than 50 questions about food sufficiency and food security, only 10 (or 18 if there are children in the household) are used in the scale to estimate the prevalence of food security. These questions, asked of all households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line, generally ask about whether the household experienced anxiety over the lack of resources to meet basic food needs, the perception of inadequacy in quality or quantity of the diet, reduced food intake, or the feeling of hunger due to reduced food intake for adults and (sepa-