problem in the United States.” Yet it did find evidence of hunger “as commonly defined” (p. 36):
To many people hunger means not just symptoms that can be diagnosed by a physician, it bespeaks the existence of a social, not a medical, problem: a situation in which someone cannot obtain an adequate amount of food, even if the shortage is not prolonged enough to cause health problems. It is the experience of being unsatisfied, of not getting enough to eat. This, of course, is the sense in which people ordinarily use the word. It is also the sense in which the witnesses before us and many of the reports and documents we have studied have spoken of hunger. This alternative definition of hunger relates directly to our communal commitment to ensure that everyone has adequate access to food, and to the nation’s endeavors to provide food assistance. And in this sense we cannot doubt that there is hunger in America.
The task force, further noting in its report the lack of a definition of hunger and of documentation of it in the United States, articulated the need for measuring hunger (pp. 37, 39):
There is no official “hunger count” to estimate the number of hungry people, and so there are no hard data available to estimate the extent of hunger directly. Those who argue that hunger is widespread and growing rely on indirect measures…. We regret our inability to document the degree of hunger caused by income limitations, for such lack of definitive, quantitative proof contributes to a climate in which policy discussions become unhelpfully heated and unsubstantiated assertions are then substituted for hard information.
After the 1984 task force report, researchers in the private sector and government agencies increased their efforts to develop survey measures of the severity and extent of hunger in the United States. The Food Research and Action Center sponsored a major series of surveys—the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project (CCHIP)—to study hunger among children. The research of Radimer, Olson, Campbell, and colleagues at the Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences was directed toward developing indicators to assess hunger (Radimer, Olson, Green, Campbell, and Habicht, 1992; Radimer et al., 1990). At the federal government level in the mid 1980s, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) began to analyze information obtained from the single survey question on the adequacy of household food supplies added since 1977 to its periodic Nationwide Food Consumption Survey. In the late 1980s, a food sufficiency question similar to the one in the Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys, along with other questions on regular access to food supplies adapted from the CCHIP questionnaire, were included by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).