Unpacking an Anomaly: Analyzing the 2005–2012 Current Population Survey to Understand Why Many Emergency Food Assistance Users Report Being Food Secure

Colleen Heflin, Kate Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

We analyzed households that use emergency food assistance (EFA) programs (eg, food pantries, soup kitchens) to better understand the repeated but seemingly anomalous finding that many EFA participants report being food secure. Using bivariate descriptive statistics and simple probit models to data from the 2005–2012 Current Population Survey (CPS), we examine 3 hypotheses: (1) food secure EFA participants are systematically different from food insecure participants; (2) food secure EFA participants are reporting food security and EFA usage from different times; and (3) among food secure households, EFA participants are more likely to be marginally food secure. We find limited evidence that food secure EFA participants are more advantaged than their food insecure counterparts. The 30-day food security reports are markedly higher than the 12-month reports, which suggests recall bias. Finally, among the food secure, EFA participants are more likely to be marginally food secure. We conclude that the 12-month measure of food security used in the CPS may result in overreports of food security among EFA participants, and many participants characterized as food secure may still face uncertainty about their food supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-76
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • emergency food assistance
  • Food insecurity
  • food pantries
  • food security
  • marginal food secure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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