USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) co-sponsored the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to fill a critical data gap and support research that informs policymaking on key national priorities, including health and obesity, hunger, and nutrition assistance policy. The survey captures unique and comprehensive data from a nationally representative sample about household food purchases and acquisitions, along with factors that influence household food choices. FoodAPS is designed to support research about:

  • The interrelationships between American households’ food acquisitions, factors influencing food demand, and household well-being; and 
  • How access to food stores with a wide variety of healthy food offerings is related to food choices and measures of food security, health, and obesity.

FoodAPS captures detailed information about purchases and acquisitions of individual food items intended for consumption at home and away from home, as well as foods acquired through food and nutrition assistance programs. FoodAPS also provides information about how household food purchase decisions vary with the number and characteristics of people in the household, their available resources (including food and nutrition assistance program benefits, if any), and the array of food items and prices that are accessible to them.

Under contract to ERS, Mathematica Policy Research, a private research firm with experience conducting large-scale surveys, collected FoodAPS data between April 2012 and January 2013. In the field, the survey was called the National Food Study for simplicity (see the Informational brochure). Each household participated in the data collection activities for one week.

This is the first survey designed to provide a variety of policy-relevant information on household food purchases and acquisitions, thereby broadening the scope of economic analyses of food choices.