[PHNUTR-L] Tufts: Food insecurity and food stamps: How is the US
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Tue Dec 20 07:01:25 PST 2005
Colleagues, the following is FYI and does not necessarily reflect my own
opinion. I have no further knowledge of the topic. If you do not wish to
receive these posts, set your email filter to filter out any messages
coming from @nutritionucanlivewith.com and the program will remove
anything coming from me.
Public release date: 19-Dec-2005
Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Food insecurity and food stamps: How is the US doing?
Research from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at
Imagine being one of the 38 million people in the United States whose
family can't count on having enough food throughout the year. According
to new federal data, the number of families considered "food insecure"
is growing. The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) announced in October that household food insecurity
increased in 2004. What's more, says Parke Wilde, PhD, assistant
professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at
Tufts, "this increase represents the largest one-year jump since data
collection began in 1995." Wilde, a food economist, tracks household
food insecurity, food stamps, and related measures of hunger.
The percentage of US households classified as insecure rose from 11.2
percent in 2003 to 11.9 percent in 2004. While this one-year increase
might not seem like a lot, it represents the fifth straight year of
worsening food insecurity. Barely 10 percent of US households were food
insecure in 1999. Wilde illustrates graphically how household food
insecurity declined between 1995 and 1999, but then increased steadily
every year from 1999 to 2004. "The top line [of the graph] shows actual
rates of household food insecurity, and the bottom line reproduces the
trend line contained in a 2002 USDA report describing intended progress
toward national goals."
"The country," Wilde says, "is moving further away from its goals. The
official Healthy People 2010 objective is six percent food insecurity by
the year 2010. The 'Rome Declaration,' adopted by the US and 185 other
countries at the 1996 World Food Summit, pledges a commitment to work
toward the goal of a 50 percent reduction in the number of
undernourished people by no later than 2015."
Wilde points out that a family's food security status can fluctuate
greatly from one year to the next. Commenting in a paper that he
presented earlier this year, Wilde notes: "Households do not come in
constant 'secure' and 'insecure' varieties. Instead, it appears that
unobserved hardships strike from time to time, with large effects on
both Food Stamp Program participation and food security. Unobserved
hardships (occurrences that are not accounted for in the survey) such as
a sudden medical emergency would affect food security in households by
diverting income normally used for food to pay for medical expenses.
People experiencing an unobserved hardship may be more likely to join
the Food Stamp Program."
Wilde and his co-author Mark Nord of the ERS, USDA, writing in the
Review of Agricultural Economics, quantified these year-to-year
fluctuations as part of a study that sought to measure how the US Food
Stamp Program influences food security. They used a panel data model
that sought to identify confounding factors that may have produced
skewed results in previous analyses. "The study provides, for the first
time, a dynamic picture of the rates at which families fall into hunger
or rise out of hunger from one year to the next, using nationally
representative data." Previous efforts, according to Wilde, did not
survey the same group of people over time. This new analysis of the data
compares their food security status in 2001 and 2002.
Wilde advises that, "this topic is sufficiently important to warrant
using the best possible research designs to ensure that the Food Stamp
program is producing favorable results and meeting its stated goals."
A high resolution graphic is available at the following link:
Wilde, P., Nord, M. Review of Agricultural Economics. 27 (3): 1-8. "The
Effect of Food Stamps on Food Security: A Panel Data Approach."
If you are interested in learning more about these topics, or speaking
with a faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and
Policy at Tufts University, or another Tufts health sciences researcher,
please contact Siobhan Gallagher at 617-636-6586 or Peggy Hayes at
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
More information about the PHNUTR-L