Census and USDA/ERS
1995 to present
Mode of Collection
Multi-stage sample survey: household-based, one person responding for all household members.
Since 1995, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has collected information annually on food access and adequacy, food spending, and sources of food assistance for the U.S. population. The information is collected in an annual food security survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau as a supplement to the nationally representative Current Population Survey (CPS-FSS). A major impetus for this data collection is to provide information about the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households.
The CPS-FSS is a key source of national and state data from U.S. households regarding food security, food expenditures, and use of food and nutrition assistance programs.
The U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population.
The CPS-FSS is an annual supplement to the CPS. Information about the CPS sample and methodology is presented in the CPS data source description. The food security survey asked one adult respondent in each household a series of questions about experiences and behaviors of household members that indicate food insecurity, such as being unable to afford balanced meals, cutting the size of meals because of too little money for food, or being hungry because of too little money for food. The food security status of the household is assigned based on the number of food-insecure conditions reported. Households with very low food security among children are identified by responses to a subset of questions about the conditions and experiences of children. Survey respondents also report the amounts their households spend on food and whether they use public or private food and nutrition assistance programs. All households with incomes below 185 percent of the Federal poverty threshold are asked questions about the use of Federal and community-based food and nutrition assistance programs. In order to minimize the burden on respondents, households with incomes above that range are not asked the questions unless they indicate some level of difficulty in meeting their food needs on the first of the preliminary screener questions.
Response Rates and Sample Size
The 2018 basic CPS covered about 50,000 households. About 25% of households that completed the basic monthly CPS did not complete the CPS-FSS. The CPS-FSS weights adjust for this nonresponse.
- USDA: Food Security in the United States: Food Security Data Access and Documents Downloads.
- USDA: Food Security in the United States: Measurement.