Heflin study on why emergency food assistance users report being food secure published in JHEN
Jun 21, 2016
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
Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, June 2016
The authors 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.
The authors 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. The authors 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.
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