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Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) for Measurement of Food Access


This document is a guide for implementing one such option, the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS), which is an adaptation of the approach used to estimate the prevalence of food insecurity in the United States (U.S.) annually. The method is based on the idea that the experience of food insecurity (access) causes predictable reactions and responses that can becaptured and quantified through a survey and summarized in a scale. Qualitative research with low-income households in the U.S. provided insight into the following ways that households experience food insecurity (access) (Radimer et al., 1990, Radimer et al., 1992, Wehler et al.,1992, Hamilton, 1997):-Feelings of uncertainty or anxiety over food (situation, resources, or supply);-Perceptions that food is of insufficient quantity (for adults and children);-Perceptions that food is of insufficient quality (includes aspects of dietary diversity, nutritional adequacy, preference);-Reported reductions of food intake (for adults and children);-Reported consequences of reduced food intake (for adults and children); and-Feelings of shame for resorting to socially unacceptable means to obtain food resources.iiThe eighteen-question U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module (US HFSSM) asks respondents to describe behaviors and attitudes that relate to these various aspects, also called ‘domains’, of the food insecurity experience (Hamilton et al., 1997). For example, a question relating to perceptions of insufficient quantity asks whether any adults had to eat less than theythought they should. The uncertainty-related questions include one about whether the respondent worried that the household’s food would run out. Responses to the US HFSSM are summarized in a scale to provide a continuous indicator of the degree of a household’s food insecurity. Cutoff points on the scale enable categorical classification of whether households are food secure or not. These data are used to monitor food assistance programs and to report on national prevalence of household food insecurity.


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FANTA Project

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