cost about $600,000 a year to collect, which he said is very reasonable because it is an add-on module to the CPS survey. He noted that if longitudinal data are important, USDA could add the food security module to an additional survey. However, to find enough observations to examine very low food security over time in such a survey might take more money than USDA has available. He suggested thinking outside the box on data, especially using existing monitoring systems, such as the school system monitoring approach that Frongillo mentioned. He noted certain biological markers could inform different data collections. He referred back to the modeling idea and the iceberg metaphor that Coleman-Jensen used (Chapter 3): Rather than just looking at the 127 households in the CPS at the tip of the iceberg, researchers could use data from all households to model the entire iceberg and then extrapolate from the base to the tip.
Ziliak responded by encouraging greater linking of administrative data to currently existing data. He noted that in looking at SNAP effects on food insecurity through survey data, there are selection problems or reverse causation. There is also measurement error from underreporting. The linking of administrative data to existing datasets can solve some of those problems, although good mechanics are needed to deal with reverse causation.
Mandy Murphy (University of California, Berkeley) commented that the workshop illustrated the problem of food insecurity among children, but researchers seem to be unclear about how to best define the problem. If the community tries to completely and perfectly understand and define the problem by improving measurements, methodology, and understanding the determinants, she said, the problem probably will have shifted by the time it is defined. Instead, she invited and challenged participants to focus on innovative solutions by including the people to be helped as an integral part of the conversation and ultimately the solution. Using the community resources in place, creating new solutions, and looking at how to improve the federal assistance food programs would be ideal, she said. Ziliak noted at a time of financial and fiscal retraction, evidence-based policy development is key. He reiterated the need to work toward creative solutions to the problem.
Jay Hirschman (Food and Nutrition Service) thanked the speakers and the National Academies for the workshop. He concurred that it will be important to keep the network alive and interacting, recognizing the unique opportunity of research funding provided under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Section 141. He also called attention to language in Section 141 that authorizes demonstration projects with truly rigorous evaluation to provide the knowledge and results of long-term lasting value. He noted that USDA wants to ensure that research and demonstration projects are coupled to provide the best, well-planned ideas.