The panel used three criteria to guide the content of the report and its recommendations. First, the subject area examined must be relevant to and within the scope and purview of the panel’s charge. Second, the evidence and analysis must be sufficient to support and justify its conclusions and recommendations. Third, recommendations should be attainable at reasonable cost.
The report focuses primarily on the Phase 2 charge and is organized in a manner responsive to the panel’s charge. Following this Introduction, Chapter 2 summarizes the history of the development of the concepts of household food insecurity and hunger and their operational definitions, the measurement and monitoring of food insecurity in the context of the United States using the Food Security Supplement to the Current Population Survey, and the uses of the food insecurity questions in other surveys nationally and internationally. Chapter 3 discusses the conceptual issues associated with the terms food insecurity and hunger and the operational definitions used to measure household food insecurity and hunger and the usage of labels for categories of food insecurity.
Chapters 4–7 examine a range of issues and needed changes leading toward improved measures of the prevalence of food insecurity and hunger. Chapter 4 reviews the current measurement of food insecurity and the validity and reliability of the questions used to measure food insecurity and hunger, identifying selected questions in the Household Food Security Survey Module that need improvements. Chapter 5 reviews the history and structure of latent variable models and describes the different ways of estimating latent variable models. The chapter then examines the method currently used by USDA to measure food insecurity and its prevalence and the various issues involved with the method used, suggesting better ways to match the item response theory models with the nature of the data collected in the food insecurity surveys. Chapter 6 reviews the key features of selected national sample surveys in terms of their capacity to include the Food Security Supplement, compares the relative advantages and disadvantages of the surveys, and provides recommendations for USDA’s future consideration. Chapter 7 examines the use of the estimate of the prevalence of food insecurity for assessing the performance of USDA’s food assistance programs in accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.
Finally, Chapter 8 highlights the panel’s key conclusions. It emphasizes that the panel, in providing the critique and recommended actions for the future, recognizes the continuing research and concerted efforts to develop a standardized direct measure of food insecurity that can be used for monitoring purposes and related research that have been carried out by USDA and its collaborating agencies.