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Food Insecurity and Hunger in the United States: An Assessment of the Measure
Overall, the panel concludes that the highest research priority is to develop a clear conceptual definition of hunger and to determine how best to implement the new definition, to study the manner in which item response theory models are applied to the data so that the classification structure better reflects the data collected in the FSS, and to take advantage of new developments in cognitive questionnaire design in evaluation and testing of the questions asked.
The panel commends USDA and its collaborating agencies for the careful and extensive work that went into the development of a standard food security measure. It is unusual for an agency to undertake such comprehensive research prior to the start of a survey, and the panel has been very impressed by much that has been done. The panel further recognizes USDA’s continuing efforts to study, evaluate, and improve the measure. The additional research proposed by the panel builds on some of the work that USDA has already done. In addition, over the 10 years since the survey was launched there have been advances in survey design, questionnaire development, and modeling. The panel concludes that some of the new research suggested in the report could be especially useful, particularly in the key areas identified in the report.
Finally, the panel hopes that the points made in this report contribute toward development of a revised, efficient, and more cost-effective system for monitoring the prevalence of food insecurity in the United States. In addition, the suggestions for new research should help to link a household’s food insecurity status with research to answer the important question about the broader health, socioeconomic, and psychological consequences of food insecurity in the United States.