• The Concept and Definition of Hunger and Its Relationship to Food Insecurity by D.H. Holben.

The full text of these papers is available at <http://www.nationalacdemies.org/cnstat>.

Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study is complex, covering wide-ranging issues from concepts and definitions, to survey design and implementation, to statistical methods and models, to application for assessing program performance. At the same time, its scope is limited to reviewing USDA’s measure of food insecurity as used in the annual survey. Many other issues relevant to the subject of food insecurity, such as the determinants and consequences of hunger, the relationship of obesity and food insecurity and hunger, the relationship between food insecurity and dietary intake, nutrient availability and health status, socially acceptable sources of food, and food safety, are important. These issues, however, are not intrinsically indicators of economic deprivation. Although the panel recognizes their importance, their measurement is beyond the scope of this study. Moreover, a full consideration of these issues should be the subject of separate studies.

As with most national household population surveys, the CPS excludes homeless people who are not in shelters. However, the question of including or excluding homeless people from the Food Security Supplement to the CPS is not as straightforward as for other household surveys. Omitting the homeless is likely to result in an undercount of the number of more severely food-insecure persons. The panel recognizes the likelihood of relatively high rates of food insecurity among homeless people, and the resulting negative bias resulting from their exclusion. At the same time, it has serious questions about the operational and methodological issues. Over the years, techniques have been developed to locate, sample, and obtain data about segments of this population. The Census Bureau has done a lot of experimentation in this area. Yet locating and screening respondents for eligibility require special efforts involving careful and long-term planning, substantial staff resources, considerable time, and high levels of funding. Much research and testing are required to develop the necessary protocols and procedures for conducting the Food Security Supplement in a separate survey among homeless people. Until better methods to survey the homeless are developed, continuing to limit the target population to the household population seems appropriate.

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