Food Security Supplement Sample Notes

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Since 1995, the Current Population Survey (CPS) has included a Food Security supplement (FSS) collecting information on the food security, food program participation, and food expenditures of U.S. households. The questions in the FSS are asked about the household as a whole and not about individuals within the household.

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 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.

The supplement 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).

Two household weights are available for this supplement. For analyzing food security, researchers should use the food security status weight, FSHWTSCALE. For other types of analyses, researchers should use HWTSUPP, the main household supplement weight. HWTSUPP differs from the basic monthly weight due to supplement non-response.

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

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.

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.

Food Security Supplement Codebooks

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