one-quarter of those reporting hunger-related conditions, occurrences of the reported experiences and behaviors were frequent or chronic, that is, they were reported to have occurred “often” or “in almost every month.” The monthly prevalence of resource-constrained hunger as currently measured by USDA is estimated to have been about 60 percent of the annual prevalence. Among households that reported food insecurity with hunger during a month, around 70 percent of the respondents experienced these conditions in 7 days or fewer; 10 to 20 percent experienced the conditions in 15 days or more. On a typical day in 1998, the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger is estimated to have been 13 to 18 percent of the annual prevalence.

The researchers note that although “the analyses add considerably to the understanding of the frequency and duration of food insecurity and hunger, they should be used with some caution. The proportions of food insecurity and hunger that are recurring and frequent or chronic almost certainly vary across subpopulations…. Precise estimation of frequency or chronic incidence would require collection of frequency-of-occurrence information for all items in the scale and creation of a separate scale of frequent or chronic food insecurity and hunger” (Nord et al., 2002, p. 200).

Recommendation 4-1: USDA should determine the best way to measure frequency and duration of household food insecurity. Any revised or additional measures should be appropriately tested before implementing in the Household Food Security Survey Module.


The focus of this section is on the validity and reliability of the individual questions that comprise the HFSSM. The specific issues are summarized from Dykema and Schaeffer (2005).3 Although the focus is on improving specific items in the HFSSM, the issues outlined in the following discussion are also applicable to the full FSS.

Measurement and Item Construction

Defining Constrained Economic Resources

The concept of constrained economic resources is not consistently referenced in the current set of questions. The focus of the questions is on limited intake and availability of food due to constrained economic re-


This information is drawn from the background paper by Dykema and Schaeffer (2005).

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