TopicsTopics

Stay Connected

Follow ERS on Twitter
Subscribe to RSS feeds
Subscribe to ERS e-Newsletters.aspx
Listen to ERS podcasts
Read ERS blogs at USDA

Documentation

Overview of Surveys

This page provides information about the following surveys:

Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (CPS-FSS)

The Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (CPS-FSS) is the source of national and State-level statistics on food insecurity used in USDA's annual reports on household food security. The CPS is a monthly labor force survey of about 50,000 households conducted by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once each year, after answering the labor force questions, the same households are asked a series of questions (the Food Security Supplement) about food security, food expenditures, and use of food and nutrition assistance programs. Food security data have been collected by the CPS-FSS each year since 1995.

Data Files

Public-use household-level CPS-FSS data files are available for each year, beginning in 1995, through the DataFerrett system of the U.S. Census Bureau, on CD-ROM from the U.S. Census Bureau in ASCII format, or, beginning in 2010, from downloads via FTP from the Census Bureau.

  • The DataFerrett system at the U.S. Census Bureau may be used to download data or to carry out tabulations online. The documentation on the DataFerrett site is limited; more detailed documentation, including a full data dictionary, copy of the questionnaire, and user notes, can be downloaded from the Census Bureau's website.
  • Alternatively, data for 1995-2009 may be purchased from the U.S. Census Bureau on CD-ROM by calling the Customer Service Center at (301) 763-4636.
  • Beginning with the 2010 survey, data and documentation may be downloaded via FTP from the Census Bureau.
  • As of 2010, replicate weights to support balanced repeated replication variance estimates are available.  The replicate weight data file and usage instructions are available for download from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Four data sets that complement those available from the Census Bureau are available for download on the ERS website.  These are available as ASCII uncompressed or zipped files.  The purpose and appropriate use of these additional data files are described below:

1) CPS 1995 Revised Food Security Status data--This file provides household food security scores and food security status categories that are consistent with procedures and variable naming conventions introduced in 1996. This includes the "common screen" variables to facilitate comparisons of prevalence rates across years. This file must be matched to the 1995 CPS Food Security Supplement public-use data file. To download the technical documentation, click here PDF icon (16x16).

2) CPS 1998 Children's and 30-day Food Security data--Subsequent to the release of the April 1999 CPS-FSS public-use data file, USDA developed two additional food security scales to describe aspects of food security conditions in interviewed households not captured by the 12-month household food security scale. This file provides three food security variables (categorical, raw score, and scale score) for each of these scales along with household identification variables to allow the user to match this supplementary data file to the CPS-FSS April 1998 data file. To download the technical documentation, click here PDF icon (16x16).

3) CPS 1999 Children's and 30-day Food Security data--Subsequent to the release of the April 1999 CPS-FSS public-use data file, USDA developed two additional food security scales to describe aspects of food security conditions in interviewed households not captured by the 12-month household food security scale. This file provides three food security variables (categorical, raw score, and scale score) for each of these scales along with household identification variables to allow the user to match this supplementary data file to the CPS-FSS April 1999 data file. To download the technical documentation, click here PDF icon (16x16).

4) CPS 2000 30-day Food Security data--Subsequent to the release of the September 2000 CPS-FSS public-use data file, USDA developed a revised 30-day CPS Food Security Scale. This file provides three food security variables (categorical, raw score, and scale score) for the 30-day scale along with household identification variables to allow the user to match this supplementary data file to the CPS-FSS September 2000 data file. To download the technical documentation, click here PDF icon (16x16).

Note that all downloaded files, either from the Census Bureau or the ERS website, are large raw data files--one record per interviewed household or person--not tables of statistics. Knowledge of the subject matter, survey methods, survey data format, and data analysis is required to use the files. For statistical summaries and technical reports that are based on these data, see the Readings under the topic Food Security in the U.S. The technical documentation/user notes and questionnaires are available for each file of the CPS-FSS and will facilitate the appropriate use of the data for each of the years. The notes and questionnaires are not identical across years.

Release Dates

CPS-FSS data are released approximately nine months after the survey is completed, following quality assurance checks by the Census Bureau and ERS. Data are currently released in early September.

Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Birth Cohort of 2001 (ECLS-B)

The ECLS-B, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), followed a nationally representative sample of approximately 14,000 children born in 2001 from birth through kindergarten entry. Food security information was collected in parent surveys in several waves of the survey. Food security data are in the main data files available from National Center for Education Statistics.

Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K)

The ECLS-K, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), followed a nationally representative sample of approximately 22,000 children from kindergarten through eighth grade. One purpose of the program was to provide data to test hypotheses about the effects of a wide range of family, school, community, and individual variables on children's development, early learning, and early performance in school.

Several waves of the ECLS-K included the Food Security Core Module in surveys of the parents of children in the study. Food security data were collected in the spring parent interviews when the children were in kindergarten (Round 2, 1999), 3rd grade (Round 5, 2002), and 5th grade (Round 6, 2004) and in the fall parent interview when the children were in grade 8 (Round 7, 2006).

Data on the food security of households with children in the ECLS-K are provided in the NCES public-use data for Round 5, and Round 6, and the forthcoming Round 7. The base year (Round 2) Food Security File was prepared by ERS to provide corresponding food security data for households interviewed in Round 2.

Data Files

The ECLS-K Food Security File provides both interval-level and categorical measures of each household's food security status. The Food Security File matches to the ECLS-K 1998-99 Child Data File by child identification number (CHILDID). The Child Data File provides data on a broad array of topics about kindergarten-age children and their families.

National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States and is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).  In 2011 and 2012, USDA sponsored the inclusion of the 10-item adult 30-day food security module on the NHIS.  Given the extensive health information collected in the NHIS, these data are a rich source for examining both the effects of long-term health problems and disability on food insecurity as well as the effects of food insecurity on more immediate health outcomes. The 2011 public-use family data file available on the NHIS website includes responses to each of the 10 items plus three recodes that summarize adult food security status for the family. The recodes in the NHIS use the standard USDA food security classifications based on the 10 adult items.

Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) Food Security Files

The PSID is an ongoing longitudinal survey, begun in 1968, of a representative sample of U.S. individuals and their families. Food security information was collected in the following surveys:

  • Child Development Supplement (CDS-I)--In 1997, PSID supplemented its core data collection with data on parents and their 0- to 12-year-old children, the Child Development Supplement (CDS). The 1997 PSID-CDS survey of the children's primary caregivers included the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module. Data (responses to individual food security questions as well as composite household food security status variables) are available from the PSID website at the University of Michigan.
  • PSID 1999 Family Survey--The PSID 1999 family survey included the 18 questions in the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module. The PSID 1999 Family Food Security Status Data File, along with documentation (in the same zipped file), can be downloaded from the PSID website at the University of Michigan. (It is one of the "Packaged Supplemental Data and Documentation" files.) Two sets of composite household food security status variables are provided, one based on the Household Food Security Scale and the other (for families with children) based on the Children's Food Security Scale. The PSID 1999 Family Data File to which the food security file matches, along with many earlier PSID files for the same persons and documentation and other information on the study, are also available from the PSID website.
  • PSID 2001 and 2003 Family Surveys--The PSID 2001 and 2003 family surveys included the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module. Responses to the food security questions are provided in the main data files, available from the PSID website at the University of Michigan. Composite household food security status variables are not provided. Users will need to calculate them following procedures outlined in the Guide to Measuring Household Food Security, Revised 2000 16x16 - PDF.

Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) 1996 and 2001 Wave 8 Food Security Data Files contain summary food security status information for each household that was interviewed in the SIPP Wave 8 Topical Modules on Adult Well-Being, conducted in 1998 and 2003, respectively. The food security status variables were calculated based on responses to five questions from the U.S. Food Security Survey Module that were included in the SIPP Topical Modules. The food security questions refer to the 4 months prior to the survey. The SIPP Wave 8 Food Security Data Files match to the main SIPP Wave 8 Topical Module Data Files at the household level. The main SIPP Wave 8 data files, available from the U.S. Census Bureau, contain basic demographic, economic, and social characteristics data for each member of interviewed households.

Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD)

The Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD) was an annual survey, beginning in 1997, of households that had been interviewed periodically during several earlier years in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The SPD was designed specifically to monitor and assess outcomes of welfare program changes that started in 1996. It included questions on a broad array of topics including income, employment, use of food and nutrition assistance programs, and receipt of cash welfare. Beginning in 1998 and continuing in subsequent years, the SPD included the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module.

The SPD food security status files, available for 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002, contain summary food security status information for households interviewed in the SPD. The food security status variables were calculated by ERS based on responses to the questions in the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module included in the SPD. The food security status files match to the main SPD data files for the respective years at the household level and are intended to be used in conjunction with those files. The main SPD data files, available from the U.S. Census Bureau, contain data on demographic, economic, and social characteristics of households and household members, focusing on eligibility for and use of public assistance programs. The main data files for all years except 1999 may be purchased from the U.S. Census Bureau on CD-ROM by calling the Customer Service Center at (301) 763-4636. Data for all years except 1998 are available through the Census Bureau's Data Ferrett system.

Last updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

For more information contact: Alisha Coleman-Jensen and Mark Nord

Share or Save this Page