This page provides the following resources:
- The Guide
- U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module
- U.S. Adult Food Security Survey Module
- Six-Item Short Form of the Food Security Survey Module
- Self-Administered Food Security Survey Module for Youth Ages 12 and Older
- Spanish Translation of the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module
- Chinese Translation of the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module
- CPS Food Security Supplements
The survey tools will allow researchers to:
- Adapt the module to their survey context.
- Edit and code responses.
- Calculate household summary measures of food security: food security scale scores and food security status.
Using these standardized modules and procedures will strengthen validity and reliability of the resulting measures and assure maximum comparability with national statistics on food security and hunger.
Guide to Measuring Household Food Security (Revised 2000)—The Guide is the most authoritative and accessible resource on how to measure household food security. It provides detailed guidance for researchers on how to use the survey module to measure food security and food insecurity. Statistics from surveys that use these methods will be directly comparable to published national statistics. This Guide supersedes the Guide to Implementing the Core Food Security Module, published by USDA in 1997. Please note recent changes below.
The Guide includes:
- Food security measurement concepts.
- Theoretical and statistical underpinnings of the methodology.
- Wording for the 18 questions in the survey module.
- Screening specifications to minimize respondent burden without substantially biasing the data.
- Specifications for coding and scoring items.
- Guidance for using the standard six-item short form of the survey module.
Notes on Recent Changes
Since publication of the Guide, USDA has introduced new labels for describing ranges of food security and food insecurity (high, marginal, low, and very low food security). These labels are consistent with recommendations by the Committee on National Statistics, and ERS recommends that they be used consistently throughout the U.S. food security monitoring and research effort.
Food Security Survey Modules
Since publication of the Guide, minor changes in wording of questions have been made and the order of presentation of questions has been changed. Use the modules below rather than those in the Guide to include these changes.
(18-items) Three-stage design with screeners. Screening keeps respondent burden to the minimum needed to get reliable data. Most households in a general population survey are asked only three questions (five if there are children in the household). The questionnaire has been modified slightly from that in the Guide, and the questions have been re-ordered to group the child-referenced questions after the adult-referenced questions; download it in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
(10 items) Three-stage design with screeners. Screening keeps respondent burden to the minimum needed to get reliable data. Most households in a general population survey are asked only three questions. The questionnaire has been modified very slightly from that specified for households without children in the Guide; download it in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
- Less respondent burden.
- Improves comparability of food security statistics between households with and without children and among households with children in different age ranges.
- Avoids asking questions about children's food security, which can be sensitive in some survey contexts.
- Does not provide specific information on food security of children.
For surveys that cannot implement the 18-item or 10-item measures, this "Short Form" 6-item scale provides a reasonably reliable substitute. It uses a subset of the standard 18 items. This is the same six-item questionnaire that is in the Guide; download it in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
- Less respondent burden for food-insecure households. Can be screened after three items to reduce burden for households with no food access problems.
- Prevalence estimates of food insecurity and very low food security are only minimally biased relative to those based on 18-item or 10-item modules.
- Standard short form with known relationship to full module.
- Less precise and somewhat less reliable than 18-item measure.
- Does not measure the most severe levels of food insecurity.
- Does not ask about conditions of children in the household.
This survey module was adapted from the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module for self-administration by children ages 12 and older. Development and assessment of the module is described in Carol L. Connell, Mark Nord, Kristi L. Lofton, and Kathy Yadrick, 2004, "Food Security of Older Children Can Be Assessed Using a Standardized Survey Instrument," The Journal of Nutrition 134:2566-72. Download the questionnaire in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
A Spanish translation of the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module was developed by USDA researchers from previous translations by researchers at UCLA and the National Center for Health Statistics. ERS recommends this translation for use among Spanish-speaking populations within the United States. Download the questionnaire in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
A Chinese translation of the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module was developed by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco in collaboration with ERS and documented in Christine M.L. Kwan, Anna M. Napoles, Jeyling Chou, and Hilary K. Seligman, 2015, "Development of a conceptually equivalent Chinese-language translation of the US Household Food Security Survey Module for Chinese immigrants to the USA," Public Health Nutrition 18(2): 242-250 and Courtney R. Lyles, Mark Nord, Jeyling Chou, Christine M.L. Kwan and Hilary K. Seligman, 2015, "The San Francisco Chinese Food Security Module: Validation of a Translation of the US Household Food Security Survey Module," Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 10(2): 189-201. ERS recommends that this translation be used among Chinese-speaking adults within the United States. Download the questionnaire in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.
Additional questionnaire items about food security, food sufficiency, food expenditures, use of food programs, and other ways of coping with food insecurity are included in the CPS Food Security Supplements but are not in the core food security module. Go to the Food Security in the United States data product to download any of the CPS Food Security Supplement Questionnaires in English, or download a Spanish translation in the format that works for you: PDF or Microsoft Word.