Food Security Supplement Sample Notes

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Survey Overview

In April of 1976 and August of 1977, the CPS included supplemental questions about food stamp recipients. Beginning in 1995, the Current Population Survey (CPS) has included a Food Security supplement collecting information on the food security, food program participation, and food expenditures of U.S. households. IPUMS CPS includes both food stamp recipient supplement and later food security supplement data in its Food Security supplement (FSS). Users should note that the Food Security supplement is a household-level supplement.

The FSS also collects data on food expenditures and whether these expenditures are sufficient to meet the household's food needs. Finally, the supplement includes questions on participation in public food assistance programs and on other coping strategies a household uses when experiencing food insecurity (e.g. borrowing food, using food pantries).

The IPUMS CPS version of the supplement was partially funded by the University of Kentucky's Center for Poverty Research, which receives support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.

Codebooks: Food Security Supplement Codebooks

Changes in the Survey Over Time


Beginning in 1995, Food security is assessed using an 18 item scale developed by the Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to measure limited or uncertain access to food due to insufficient economic resources. See the annual USDA report on "Food Insecurity in the United States" for more information on the measurement of food insecurity in the CPS and overall trends in household and child food insecurity in the US.

Researchers should note that, also beginning in 1995, preliminary screening questions are asked of higher income households, to screen out those reporting no food hardship from the full food security questionnaire. Because the screening procedures for the food security section varied prior to 1998, analysts who wish to analyze trends that include years prior to 1998 should use the "common screen" food security status variables (e.g. FSSTATUS95). The current (1998-forward) food security series (e.g. FSSTATUS) more fully captures the food security status of households and should be used by most analysts.


Note that for the April, 2001 supplement, households in months-in-sample 1 and 5 were not eligible for the supplement. This is reflected in greater numbers of "not in universe" codes for food security variables for that month.


Beginning in 2019, variables recording 30 day frequency of food hardships (e.g. FSDAYMO) switched from a continous 1-30 day scale to a categorical format with ranges of days (e.g. FSDAYMOCAT). This was done to decrease respondent identification risk.


Beginning in 2022, the food security supplement was redesigned. Changes to the survey instrument included reordering of sections, revised screening questions, modified language on food spending, and updated questions about the use of community nutrition assistance programs. For more details about the changes made to the survey, see the USDA's annual report: Household Food Security in the United States in 2022.

Researchers should note that in 2022, the food sufficiency screening question, FSFOODS, which asks whether households have enough of the kinds of food they want to eat, is now used as an additional screening question for the Federal food and nutrition assistance section. This change has slightly modified the universe for the following variables: FSHUNGR, FSLOSEWT, FSHNGRCH, FSDAYCH, FSFDSTMP, FSLNCHFRC, FSBRKFRC, FSFRHDSTC, FSWIC.

Researchers should also note that in 2022, the food spending, food security, and Federal food and nutrition assistance questions were updated to reflect changes in terminology, the retail environment, and technology since the survey was developed. The 2022 estimates are still comparable to previous years for these survey sections.

The community food and nutrition assistance section was also modified. Changes were made throughout this section and included the discontinuation of FSMLSWHLS and FSCOMCTR. As a result, the 2022 estimates are no longer comparable to previous years for the community food and nutrition assistance section, which applies to the following variables: FSFDBNK, FSFDBNKMO, and FSEMRGFD.


Beginning in 1995, two household weights are available for these supplements. For analyzing food security in this period using FSS samples, researchers should use the food security status weight, FSHWTSCALE, for analyzing food security status and scale data. A list of variables that this applies to is available on the FSHWTSCALE variable description page. For other types of analyses in all FSS samples, researchers should use FSSUPPWTH and FSSUPPWT for household- and person-level analyses, respectively. These weights account for supplement nonresponse. In 1976 and 1977, FSSUPPWT is identical to WTFINL. In 1976 and 1977, FSSUPPWTH is generated based on the FSSUPPWT value of the first member of the household.

Editing Procedures

Imputation techniques are not used in these supplements. Households that do not respond to the supplement are coded as "not in universe" for all supplement variables. Responding households in FSS samples can be identified using FSSUPINT.

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