Master opening for 20th anniversary ERS WMV



a So good morning and
welcome to Reflecting on 20 Years of Measuring
Household Food Security here at USDA. I am Jay Variyam,
I am the Director of the Food Economic Division
and while being a federal entity we can only give
you limited amount of refreshments especially
those from… limited amount of
refreshments but we have ordered, special ordered
something great which is great Fall
weather, full sun, blue skies and 74
degrees shortly so, so enjoy that especially
those from out of town. So ERS and Food and
Nutrition Service of the US Department of
Agriculture have played a key role in measuring
household food security in the United States. With the release of the
20th year food security measurement statistics
this year back in September, it's a good
time to reflect on the contributions and impact
that the measure has made. So this one day conference
will bring back former ERS and FNS staff that were
instrumental in developing the measure and conducting
the research program. So it is great to see all
the pioneers of the Food Security Measurement
here, Mark Nord, Gary Bickel and others so
it's a wonderful occasion for that reason as well. So we will also
hear from (Indistinct) about how food security
measure and ERS research has influenced their work. Panel of economic
researchers will discuss advances and ever
understanding of the causes and consequences
and solutions to US food insecurity. We will end the conference
looking ahead to where food security research
needs to go and the conference will be
organized as panel discussions that will
offer more personal and informal interactions. ERS, FNS and USDA
leadership will begin the day with their own
thoughts on the impact of measuring and monitoring
food security so the first session will focus on the
remarks from our USDA leadership. So our first speaker is
Catherine Woteki the Under Secretary for
Research Education and Economics here at USDA. Dr. Woteki is also
the Department's Chief Scientist, her
responsibilities include oversight of the four
agencies that comprise REE, the Agriculture
Research Service, the National Institute
of Food and Agriculture, NIFA, the ERS, Economic
Research Service and the National Agricultural
Statistical Service, NASS. The National Agricultural
Library and the National Arboretum are also under
this mission area. So before joining USDA
Dr. Woteki served as the Global Director of
Scientific Affairs for MARS Inc. where she managed the
company's scientific policy and research
on matters of health, nutrition and food safety. From 2002 to 2005, she was
the Dean of Agriculture and Professor of Human
Nutrition at Iowa State University. Dr. Woteki served as the
first Under Secretary of Food Safety at USDA from
1997 to 2001 where she oversaw the US Government
Food Safety Policy development and USDA's
continued year for operations planning. Prior to going to USDA,
Dr. Woteki served in the White House Office of
Science and Technology Policy as Deputy Associate
Director for Science from 1994 through 1996. During that time, she
called on the Clinton Administration's Policy
Statement, Science in National Interest. She is the author of over
60 reference scientific articles and 12 books
and technical reports. In 1999, Dr. Woteki was
elected to the Institute of Medicine of the
National Academy of Sciences where she chaired
the Food and Nutrition Board from 2003 to 2005. She received her MS and
PhD in Human Nutrition from Virginia Polytech
Institute and State University. So we'll give it a few
minutes until that is done… (Laughter) (Background Telephone
Conversation) Dr. Woteki. a (Applause) Well good morning everyone
and thank you very much Dr. Variyam for that
introduction, it is a real delight for me to be here
and to be part of this symposium today and I'd
like to extend my thanks Dr. Bohman to you and to
all of the staff at ERS who have put a lot of
thought and care into the preparation of this
celebration of 20 years of collection of food
insecurity data and also to give us a time to
reflect on what we've learned, where we are now
with measurement of food insecurity in the United
States and what some of the future directions
might be for our research and statistical programs. I'd also like to thank all
of your who are in the audience, you have played
very important roles in the past, now and also
have important roles to play in the future so we
really value all of the different contributions
that you make, whether it's in research, whether you
are with an anti-hunger advocacy organization we
really do appreciate the work and the advocacy that
you do, the assistance, advice that you provide to
the ongoing ERS research program and statistical
program and your commitment to reducing food
insecurity both here in the US and
internationally. So I'm here today
in two roles. One is as you heard,
Under Secretary and Chief Scientist within the
Department of Agriculture and in that role I, I
think if it particularly the Undersec, I'm sorry,
the Chief Scientist role as being the advocate for
science-based policy and, and program decisions. A lot of the research
that we do and, and a lot of the work the
statistical programs do provides information that
guides literally hundreds and thousands of decisions
that are being made daily within the action agencies
within USDA and they're also very important as
well to our authorizing committees and
appropriators in the House and Senate. So this measurement
project is really I think an excellent example of
how science can be used to help inform… …are now in
listen only mode. …programs and
policies… (Laughter) So the project itself
forms the base knowledge to ensure that all
American families have access to adequate
nutritious food by quantifying the prevalence
of food insecurity and documenting trends, by
identifying key correlates of food insecurity and
estimating program effects on food insecurity. Before the first household
food security data were collected and analyzed
in 1995, there were no validated estimates at
the national level of the prevalence of food
insecurity in the US. There was no way to
effectively estimate the number of households that
were lacking the economic access to food or to
estimate the need for an effectiveness of our food
assistance programs. The Food Security
Measurement Project has really dramatically
changed this situation so I'm here to recognize
and to applaud the achievements of this
project in particular, all of those who've
contributed to pioneering this new measure and today
it is one of USDA's most frequently cited
statistics so quite, quite an important measure
and one that gets a lot of popular attention but in
my second role here today I have more than a passing
interest in this topic because I worked at the
National Center for Health Statistics from 1983 to
1990 when NCHS was at the point of completing the
analysis of the NHANES II data that had been
collected in the 1970's. We were in the midst of
data collection for the Hispanic Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey and we also had
started planning for the NHANES III that would
go on to interview and examine over 30,000 people
in the United States and we were also at that time
planning to include a food security measurement as
part of our nutrition questionnaire. So I was serving in
two jobs at that time. Federal government hasn't
changed very much, we were short on people
so I was both the Deputy Director of the Division
of Health Examination Statistics and had
responsibility for all the analysis that was going
on and the Chief of our Survey Planning and
Development Division was on leave to complete his
PhD so I was also serving as the head of the Survey
Planning Group and at that point I had the
opportunity to work closely with Dr. Ronette
Briefel who you'll be hearing about, Ronette
had responsibilities for planning the nutrition
component of, of the survey and she led
a really important for our purposes today project
on developing a food insecurity set of
questionnaire items that we were pilot testing
for the NHANES III. That was really an
adaptation of a questionnaire that had
been used in the CCHIP Survey, the Community
Childhood Hunger Identification Project,
I'm looking at Lynn Parker because she had
been involved with, with that but Ronette also
really played a key role from our perspective
from the NHANES work. She led our NCHS
activities, had a strong working
relationship as well with people here at USDA and
that working relationship though at that initial period
in time when we were pilot testing the questionnaire
was not the strong partnership that
we have today. In fact, USDA was violently
opposed to the inclusion of the Food Insecurity
Measures and at the time when we were going for OMB
clearance of the survey we ended up actually at a
very high level meeting at OMB with Christopher
DeMuth who at that time was the head of OIRA
where we were making the arguments for why it was
important to measure food insecurity within an
overall health survey and we actually won
the day so that, that then for us was
a major advance and achievement to just get a
few questions added onto the NHANES III
questionnaire and I understand a little
bit about, you know, the work and the
collaboration that it takes to, to pioneer the
development of a new measure to go into a
survey and I'm also really glad that USDA regards the
food insufficient measures that are now in place as
being enormously important indicator of our program
performance and also very helpful as I've mentioned
before in making some of our program decisions. So after that initial
unpleasantness a real true partnership has developed
among the federal agencies. We're really glad that
there are a number of leading academics who are
also very much engaged in the analysis as well as
further refinement of the Food Security Measure and
early on USDA's Food and Nutrition Service worked
closely with the National Center for Health
Statistics and with ERS. The Food and Nutrition
Service and ERS have really continued that
strong collaboration. In 1998, ERS took over the
sponsorship of the Food Security Measure in
the National Current Population Survey and
shortly thereafter began publishing what has now
become an annual report on the prevalence and
severity of food insecurity in
US households. So this partnership
between ERS and FNS is one that we value very much. It was also recognized
from the start that measurement of food
security and its components from
definitional, conceptional and technical
perspectives was a really complex issue. There was a growing sense
that science had gotten to the point where it could
make a significant contribution to
measurement and in 1990 for example the Life
Sciences Research Office expert panel on the core
indicators of nutritional status that were being
recommended for the NHANES III noted that
food insecurity maybe widespread among
populations of nutritional concern that were
inadequately represented in the National Health
Surveys and the extent of food insecurity had been
unknown partly because the surveys hadn't reached the
groups that were most at risk and also partly
because the definition was still being refined
and the techniques for measurement were just
being developed. So the LSRO Expert Panel
also noted that research was needed on the validity
of measures of food insecurity for all the
difficult to sample populations and once
those measures of food insecurity were developed
they needed to be standardized, to provide
comparability among the findings from
various surveys, standardized measures of
food insecurity would allow the examination of
relationships among risk factors and the potential
consequences of food insecurity. So sound measures can
certainly help increase everyone's understanding
of the nature of hunger and food insecurity and
also to help pinpoint the location and the severity
when hunger occurs. Better measures could
help us provide increased understanding of the
problems that are associated with hunger and
to develop more effective programs by helping us to
make clear assessment of our progress. So I'd like to recognize
some of the early leaders who are here. We would be here today
without your leadership, your insights that the
sweat that you put into the development of, of the
current measures and I'm really glad that so many
of them could be here with us today so at FNS Steve
Carlson and Ted Macaluso were a very determine
research team, worked with them, Margaret
Andrews, Gary Bickel, Bruce Kline and
Sharon Christopher, at HHS, the National Center
for Health Statistics I mentioned Ronette along
with a large team of 50 people that were
helping us in, in planning this survey,
at ERS Mark Nord, I saw Mark earlier this
morning there you are and Margaret Andrews I also
thought I saw Margaret, there you are and the
federal partnership drew heavily on the pioneering
academic work of Cathy Radimer, Cathy Campbell,
Christine Olsen, and Ed Frangullo and others at
Cornell University and the Childhood Hunger
Identification Project that I've also mentioned
that was under the technical direction of
Sheryl Wheeler and Lynn Parker. So Chris Hamilton from APT
Associates building on the academic research and many
of the people's work that I've already mentioned led
the analysis of the first collection of the
comprehensive food security data that was
collected as a supplement to the Current
Population Survey. It was his team that was
responsible for the first nationally representative
measure of food security in the United States
a measure that's now undergone two exhaustive
reviews by the National Academy of Sciences and
remains the foundation of the current measures. So I want to recognize
what is actually more than 30 years of work that has
gone into the foundation for the two decades of the
current measure and I want to thank all of your
here again for your many contributions whether it
is from the statistical standpoint, whether it's
from the survey design standpoint, whether it's
analysis or whether it is the advocacy to make sure
that those data are put to good use,
congratulations to all. (Applause) a Thank you Dr. Woteki for
those remarks we couldn't have started this
conference in a better way than looking at those,
those fine years and those who started the initial
stages of the current measure so it was
wonderful to hear those remarks. I have great pleasure
in introducing our next speaker Kevin Concannon,
he is the Under Secretary of Food Nutrition and
Consumer Services of the USDA. FNCS has principal
responsibilities for the Food and Nutrition
Service, FNS, which has wide reach
serving one in four Americans and has lead
responsibility for promoting healthful diet
through the Center for Nutrition Policy
and Promotion. You must have all heard
about the current efforts towards releasing the
new dietary guidelines. Under Secretary Concannon
has had lengthy and distinguished career in
public service over the last 25 years he has
served as the Director of the State Health and Human
Services Department in Maine, Oregon and Iowa,
he championed expanded services, improved
access, alternatives students institutions, consumer
choices and affordable healthcare, diversity in
workplace and programs and organization of public
information technology systems. He has served in a number
of national organizations including serving as the
president of the American Public Welfare
Association, president of the National
Association of State Mental Health
Program Directors, Trustee of the American
Public Human Services Association and board
member of the American Humane Association. He has received a number
of awards including the Lifetime Human Services
Award from the American Public Human Services
Association, in 2007 and 2012, in
2007 and 2012 Catholic Charities USA Keep the
Dream Alive Award and in the 2012 National WIC
Association Leadership Award. He is a native
of Portland, Maine, a graduate of St. Francis
Xavier University Nova Scotia, he continued his
studies at the University of Southern Maine and the
University of Connecticut Graduate School
of Social Work. In 2013 he was awarded an
honorary Doctor of Law degree by St. Francis
Xavier University, pleasure to welcome
Under Secretary Concannon. (Applause) Thank you very much Jay
it's a pleasure for me to be here. I see a number of familiar
faces of people on whom we've relied for very
important information. I came in late last
evening into Dulles Airport almost at one in
the morning from San Diego where I was yesterday. In today's subject again
was underscored by the opportunity I had there
yesterday visiting a school that served among
other things 24 percent of the students at that
school came from surrounding homeless
shelters so these are kids that clearly are faced
with food insecurity along with a whole host of other
issues but I visited at another program, I'm not
going to name it because it was known in the school
arena but I was talking to one of my colleagues
coming over in the morning I asked, well what
percentage of households in, this was in
San Diego County, what percentage of
households participate in the WIC Program as
well as the Cal Fresh, the SNAP Program? WIC as you may know in
California serves 60 percent of all the births
in the state and the answer I got
was, well, a lot. Well, a lot is kind of
hard to measure so, you know, I was looking
for the delta trying to determine, you know,
what percentage, where is the targeting
here so later on I had occasion to talk with
somebody about breast feeding and I said well
what percentage of moms are breast feeding here in
California and they said 90 percent. I said 90 percent that's
an astounding number, I said 90 percent of what,
well 90 percent of the people on my list. So I said well no
that's not the same, that's not the same. So I, I, I moved on to
other programs but it underscored to me
the importance of, of data and information. If you really don't
have it you, you know, a directive, it doesn't give
you the opportunity to focus to say where are
there still continuing needs and as everybody
in this room is probably aware we're living
through a period of time unfortunately in this city
where many policymakers are in denial about
some of these data, about the reality faced
by American families so, individuals, so it's
really important for us to have the varied
kind of data that, that you provide. So I'm here to express the
appreciation of the Food Nutrition Consumer Service
so the partnership we have with Dr. Woteki
and Dr. Bohman, Jay Variyam and his team
of folks we always look forward to them when they
walk a mile or so from here, come down to the
Whitten Building and fill us in on their latest
research effort. Adequate and consistent
access to nutrition food is at the heart of
the federal nutrition assistance programs so
understanding the extent to which households and
families have enough food, food of the appropriate
quality and variety for an active healthy life is
essential to knowing whether our programs are
succeeding and know where and how they must
be strengthened. I have to say as a side
bar we had a little time on Monday afternoon and
while we were driving through a section of San
Diego we saw a sign WIC Clinic and right
near it was a store, Redeem your WIC vouchers
here and we said hold it, so let's have a bus
persons holiday here, let's cruise into that
WIC store which we did, did not identify ourselves
but just I was very interested in seeing
how much fresh produce, what the pricing was,
we've had pricing issues in California at times in
some sectors in WIC and I saw that it was all very
appropriately priced except the eggs I felt
were pretty expensive but that's a byproduct of the
avian flu problem but then we chatted with the staff
there about, you know, how may moms they serve,
the fresh food they're replacing, some of the
bananas were starting to look like they were moving
beyond and I was very impressed with it and they
said by the way what's your interest in this and
I said we're involved with you and we left
it at that. (Laughter) Anyway, for these reasons
a valid and rigorous measure of food security
is simple, the planning, managing and evaluating
federal nutrition assistance programs. I want to thank all the
people in this room and others involved in Food
Security Measurement, for your work and
creating and continually strengthening the measure
and I'm happy to celebrate with the 20
years of success. It's easy to take for
granted what seems on its face common sense concepts
of food security and food insecurity but we
know there's a lot of subjectivity around the
individual and even the household experience
of wellbeing. The role of food in that
experience can vary widely. The finding objective
parameters around these subjective experience is
the purpose and the power of Food Security
Measurements. By defining a set of
conditions and measuring them in consistent ways we
can determine the extent of food related hardship,
track it across geography and time. We can also look at
conditions that correlate with food insecurity such
as economic conditions, food prices, demographic
characteristics to better understand the causes and
consequences and devise strategies to move
households towards greater food security. We know for example that
the economy is recovering to the benefit of more
and more Americans but I always insert into that
not everybody is enjoying this recovery as I think
everybody here is aware. The official unemployment
rate has been below six percent since last
September and it appears that economic improvement
is beginning to slow and indeed reverse the trend
of rising participation in SNAP although in the San
Joaquin Valley somebody in California I speak
with yes they said, they had moved from a
section near Fresno where they're in 20 percent
unemployment at one point down to around 11 percent
so there are still pockets of, of deep unemployment
across the country. But along with other
indicators the persistence of food insecurity shows
there's much more we must do. We've seen some
improvements since 2011 but not in the most recent
years between 2013 and 2014 overall food
insecurity prevalence stayed at about 14 percent
for American households and very low food security
stayed at 5.6 percent. My colleagues from FNS
will speak later this morning about the ways
we use the Food Security Measure in evaluating
nutrition assistance intervention to inform
policy choices. As you know the politics
around the nutrition assistance program
can be contentious. I was recently called to
testify on Capitol Hill before a skeptical
audience, the House AG Committee. Indeed, the chairman made
a point ahead of the hearing to highlight
the lack of significant reductions in food
insecurity in recent years as a way to criticize
the nutrition assistance programs. In response I was able to
cite clear evidence of the ability of SNAP, the
Food Stamp program to effectively mitigate the
effect of poverty on food insecurity. A recent USDA study found
that participation in SNAP for six months is
associated with a significant decrease
in food insecurity. The Recovery Act increase
in SNAP benefits increased low income food
expenditures by more than five percent and improved
food security by more than two percent. In my judgement these data
show that food insecurity would have been much more
prevalent and severe without SNAP and the other
nutrition safety net programs. While we may continue as
a nation to debate the proper federal role in
mitigating the harsher effects of poverty and economic
deprivation solid information on the
relationship between these programs and food security
are an essential part of that deliberation. This would not be possible
without a strong objective Food Security Measure
that's when we turn to you and say thank you. In closing let me thank
the organizing for convening this workshop,
again thank you all for your dedication, hard work
in developing and refining the Food Security
Measure, thank you. (Applause) Thank you Under Secretary
for the insightful remarks and how the statistics
are important for policy decisions and of course
we take great pleasure in walking over from
here to the… (Laughter) …to, to the office at
the Whitten to give you briefings on our reports
and to listen to your insightful remarks and
comments so it's always a pleasure. Next we have Alisha
Coleman-Jensen she is with the Economic Research
Service and she is the organizer of this
wonderful conference under the leadership of her
Branch Chief, Dave Smallwood. So let's give a hand
to Alisha and Dave. (Applause) So Alisha is a Social
Science Analyst with the Food Assistance
Branch of ERS. She is the team
leader of the Food, US Food Security Research
at ERS and is lead author of the USDA's annual
report, Household Food Security in the
United States. Alisha joined ERS in 2009,
her recent research and publications include
research on disability as a risk factor for
food insecurity, measuring food insecurity
household with children and examining the
relationship payment, food security,
food prices, inflation and
unemployment. Alisha holds a PhD in
Rural Sociology and Demography from the Penn State
University, Alisha. (Applause) Thank you Jay and thank
you everyone who is here to speak today. I'm, I'm so happy tod,
that today has finally arrived and I've met
nearly all of you at least via email so it's nice to
have you in the room in person. I'll start off by saying
it's a little bit of a difficult audience to
speak to because I'm speaking to the
experts, you know, those of you who developed
the measure and who work in anti-hunger groups and
do lots of research on your own so, so bear
with me and I'm, I'm so glad that
you're all here. So without further
adieu I want to, oh, that's my title sign, so
first of all let me thank a lot of people who, who
have been working behind the scenes today to make
everything go off without a hitch. As you might imagine these
types of events take a lot of dedication from a
lot of talented people. One note I want to make
is we want to thank the Center for Hunger Free
Communities for providing a photo exhibit from
the Witnesses to Hunger Program. That should be set up for
our break and it's going to be down the hall,
there's sort of a glass conference room at the
end of the hall that you walked by when you came in
so please take a look at those photo exhibits
during the, during the breaks
and at lunch. It's nice to add a
human component to the statistics we'll be
talking about today. So I'm going to briefly
go over the definition of food security and our
most recent annual Food Security Report. Our report is released in
early September this year so our most recent
statistics are from 2014 and in 2014, 14 percent of
US households were food insecure. In these household's
respondents reported that they had difficulty
putting adequate food on the table for all their
household members and we divide food security
status by level of severity. Those who are classified
as low food secure primarily report
reductions in dietary quality and variety while
those who report very low food security indicate
that they have reductions in dietary quality and
variety and reductions in quantity so they're
telling us that they're not getting enough to
eat because of a lack of resources for food and
that more severe range of food insecurity was
5.6 percent in 2014. So just to make sure that
we're all on the same page this slide shows the
definitions of food security. Food insecure households
are those that are unable at some time during the
year to provide adequate food for one or more
household members due to a lack of resources and
very low food security indicates that normal
eating patterns of some household members were
disrupted which means that they might have been
skipping meals or going in extreme situations, a
whole day without eating and their food intake was
reduced below levels they considered inappropriate. Like many things food
insecurity is a continuum. We hope that all
households are food secure, fully food,
fully food secure. As households become food
insecure and this was born out in a lot by earlier
research by food insecurity. They sort of manage their,
the process of food insecurity so they might
start to worry about their food supply, stretch their
food supply within the household, juggle their
budgets, things like that. As the situation worsens
they reduce quality and variety of their diet and
eventually reduce food intake and in the most
extreme situations reduce food intake of children. There are, these are some
examples of the food security questions
and I'll take a plug, I'll take a second to make
a plug for our recent Amber Waves article
commemorating 20 years of US Food Security
Measurement. Amber Waves is ERS's
online magazine and we did a special reprint of
the online version. It's out at the
registration desk. If you missed it on your
way in you can pick it up during the break. And on the back there's
the handy dandy listing of all the food security
questions so if you want to refer that, to that
today you will have it there. A couple of things
to point out, all of the questions that
we base our annual Food Security Statistics
on refer to have, to experiencing food
insecurity at any time in the past 12 months. Another thing that the
questions also stipulate is their resource
constraint so that, these experience,
experiences happened because there was not
enough money for food, they couldn't afford food. And this trend chart shows
food insecurity over the 20 years. You will see that food
insecurity increased substantially with the
recession in 2008. We've seen some
improvement from the high of 14.9 percent in 2011,
it's down significantly from that point to 14.0
percent in 2014 but, but food insecurity has
been relatively slow to improve since the
recession ended. And this slide shows
the prevalence of food insecurity in households
with children so becomes a little bit more complex
when we talk about food insecurity in households
with children because we measure food insecurity
among adults and food insecurity among children
so this overall 19.2 percent indicates that
anyone in these households is food insecure. So in close to 20 percent
of households with children about one is five
there's someone in the household who is food
insecure and about half of these parents are
food insecure. They, they don't report
that their children are experiencing dietary,
dietary effects of food insecurity and then about
the other half 9.4 percent of households with
children both children and adults are experiencing
direct affects, effects of food
insecurity. And in the most severe
category that we measure in USDA is very low food
security among children and in 2014 that affected
1.1 percent of households with children. Did I press something? a Sorry if I, if I pressed
something on the clicker but that was my last
thought actually. (Laughter) So, oh, I actually have
one more slide, sorry. There's just one more
slide just to touch on our survey that we use which
is the Current Population Survey Food Security
Supplement. It's been our source for
federal food statistics since 1995 when
the measure began, thank you
Angela, and it's, it's conducted annually
in December each year and it's, the Current
Population Survey is also the source for federal
statistics on unemployment and poverty that you might
hear as well and you can go to our website there's
a lot more information there. All of our links on
reports as well as information on collecting
your own food security data, how to use food
security data and things of that nature and myself
and my colleagues do who food security research at
ERS are always happy to respond to, to questions
so feel free to reach out to us if we can be of
assistance, thank you. (Applause) Thank you Alisha, our
next speaker is our Administrator, ERS
Administrator Mary Bohman. Let me just say that there
is no better champion and supporter of food security
measurement that, and research than Dr.
Bohman and so we are deeply grateful
for her support. Mary joined ERS in 1997
and served as the Director of the agency's Resources
and Rural Economics Division and Deputy
Director of Research in the Markets and Trade
Economics Division. She also worked at the
White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy and USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. From 1990 through 1997 she
was on the Agricultural Science faculty at the
University of British Columbia but interestingly
Mary also first worked in agriculture and rural
development as a Peace Corp volunteer for
Cooperative Development in Togo, West Africa in
the early 1980's, Administrator Bohman. (Applause) Thank you Jay and, for
that kind introduction. Really being a Peace Corp
volunteer got me very interested in agricultural
markets but you saw quite clearly the impact
of poverty and food insecurity on families and
children who were visibly malnourished. I'm really pleased
to be here, I want to also thank
Alisha, David, the entire team who put
this workshop together it really is important and I
think periodically to step back and recognize our
accomplishments to really think about the value of
having good statistics and information in policy
decision-making that is the core mission of ERS
and I think to the extent that I have supported
this it's because of the importance of continuing
to invest in these statistics to ensuring
that we're keeping up with the changes in our nation
and the characteristics of the population so that
we're better tracking that we're keeping up with the
scientific methodology, statistical methods, while
we've got a great measure you can rest on your
laurels because the world is changing in
many dimensions. And Under Secretary Woteki
mentioned that there have been two major reviews I
expect we'll have more major reviews in the
future not because there's problems but because at
ERS we're really committed to providing the best
statistics that can be used in both monitoring
and decision-making and it's just wonderful when
you have such a great team that's so dedicated and so
creative in taking on this responsibility. And I want to thank
Alisha who put my remarks together actually agreed
to move the slides. So, you know, at ERS we
do play a leading role in measuring food security
and we have three research objectives in the
stewardship and the use of the statistics that
Alisha discussed. One as I mentioned is to
improve the measurement of food security and then we
also look to identify and understand the
determinants behind who is food insecure and has very
low food insecurity and then look to the role of
USDA's food and nutrition programs. We've heard about
the big measure, the basis of all this
which comes out every year. Alisha showed you the
report and it really it a close partnership and
collaboration with the Food and Nutrition
Service. Not only did we develop
the measure but we are co-authors every year of
this annual report that is released by ERS in our
role as a principal, federal, statistical
agency with a clear mandate for telling the
truth with objective statistics. Within ERS we
have it at the, sort of call a premiere
or tier one data product where we invest a lot in
research on the statistic and improving it. It's one of the most
viewed reports on our website and I've also been
interested in seeing how it's used in decision-making
and this mentions some of the things you've
heard about use by USDA and official
policy making, the media uses this,
anti-hunger advocates and academics but also people
who don't support the food and nutrition programs
or believe they're not meeting their goals will
cite these statistics. They may tell a, a story
that's different from other groups but they're
returning to the same factual basis which I
think is really critical in making decisions that
you're at least talking about the same set of
facts in this environment that we operate in. They were influential in
the Farm Bill discussions that resulted in
the 2014 Farm Act. I did a analysis last year
of all the NGOs and other groups that used ERS
research in putting out their Farm Bill
publications. We identified all
these reports, created a database of the
citations and 20 percent of the citations of ERS
during the Farm Bill discussions were these
food security statistics in this report and, and
they weren't all people supporting more funding
for food insecurity many saw that there were needs
to improve the program or saw that there were just
in general different perspectives. So again I think that's
something we want to keep looking at is to making
sure that there's widespread confidence and
use of these statistics. Let me talk next about
some of the research findings. I'm going to highlight
some things over the more recent past but as has
been mentioned there's a long history of research. And this shows a couple
recent covers on the right hand side about issues
with children in food insecurity and adults with
disabilities and let me turn to some specific
results from the adults with disabilities and this
was important work that was enabled by including
additional questions on the CPS Survey and using
that data ERS published a report that showed that
disability is a really critical factor in
determining whether a household is
food insecure. This chart is households
who measure very low food insecurity, 5.6
percent in last, in this current year
of those households 38 percent, that's both
of the colored bars, have a household member
with a disability and among them 26 percent,
a quarter of those households had someone
that was out of the labor force because of
their disability. So this kind of
measurement being able to dig behind in the
factors determining food insecurity has clear I
think implications for policies to address and
alleviate food insecurity and also helps guide
our research agenda. This shows that more work
needs to be done and a result of this and other
work ERS and FNS have partnered to include the
Food Securities Survey Module in the National
Health Interview Survey to look more in depth at the
relationship between food security, disabilities
and health. So here you see that you
need the statistics also to guide where to make
your investments in research, what
really matters. It's always been mentioned
that we've done work on the relationship between
SNAP and economic conditions. Here you have three recent
report covers and this looks at the broader role
of economic conditions as has been mentioned and
seen in the chart Alisha showed with the great
recession we saw a really sharp bump up in the
number of Americans who were low security and
very low food insecurity. Over time especially the,
not the very low food insecurity but the low food
insecurity really has slowly gone down
but quite slowly. If you map this against
just unemployment rate you would think that these
measures should be much lower than they are so ERS
conducted work to try and model these relationships
to understand whether one, are we getting our
tracking right? Does this make sense? What's going on and how
can we understand these forces and if
you, here's a, I think a really
insightful slide. This is the, actual
observed is in the dark line, our model which is,
relates food insecurity to macroeconomic conditions,
to overall inflation, to whether food prices are
rising higher than the overall rate of inflation
and to unemployment, that's the dotted line,
they track very closely so as economists we like that
it shows that we're able to do a good job of
predicting what's going on and what we see in using
this model is that unemployment especially
among the low skilled has been more stubborn in
coming down but also that even as unemployment has
come down we've seen some higher food price
inflation which has kept the rates of food
insecurity higher than we would have expected
otherwise if we just looked at one
or two economic, macroeconomic conditions
so I think that's work that shows the, has clear
policy implications. The next slide,
so, looks at some, sort of an example of our
work on the relationship between the nutrition
programs, here SNAP and food insecurity. The Great Recession
offered an opportunity to do kind of what we call
as an economist a natural experiment. Not the happiest thing, we're
not glad there was a recession but because it
took place we have a big change and allows us to
see how programs and people responded to these
conditions and another change that took place
at this time was the, sorry I got… Recovery Act, the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act or the Stimulus Bill
which took place and was passed in 2009 and
included an increase in the benefits for
SNAP participants. So people got an upward
bump in the amount of funds that they received
from SNAP and what we're able to do is use
that upward bump and statistical measure
techniques with our measure of food insecurity
and show that or about that time there was a decrease
in food insecurity among SNAP participants but
among people who were not SNAP participants slightly
above that their food insecurity didn't change. Now one study doesn't
prove anything but this study along with other
research points to the role of SNAP in mitigating
food insecurity. And then we turn to our
final example of studies in this area
which is to do, where we're going to
go with research and investments and in
partnership with the Food and Nutrition Service, ERS
worked with the Committee on National Statistics,
CNSTAT of the National Academies and sponsored
a workshop in 2013 that focused on children but
more broadly identified research and data needs
and we're using this result of the workshop
that was published in a book to guide our
investments going forward in needs for new
data and research. So I think it's really
something that from ERS this is how we want to
operate more broadly. We have a very high
quality measure of an important phenomena we
conduct research to improve that measure, we
use that to understand the determinants of
the phenomena, understand the role of
programs and then with our partnership with FNS we
present those results and use them to guide
decisions and future investments. So it's really the kind
of thing that as an administrator you're just
really feel good about so I really want to
congratulate the team for all their work. Now we don't stop there
really one of our responsibilities is
also to share this, you know we really believe
in open science in that we're not here to do
everything we share this information and help
engage the academic research community and
this shows that we fund data and make it available
to support research, you've got some examples
here where the food security model was added
to other surveys enriching those surveys in their
capacity to do research on food insecurity. Here's a list of some
of the areas where, surveys where we've
added this module. I won't read them all but
you can see that this continues and next year in
2016 we're going to add food security items to
the National Survey of Children's Health and this
really enables us to do more research. For example, by adding the
Food Security Module to the National Health
Interview Survey, researchers are now
able to examine the relationship between
food security, health and
healthcare access. So I think this is an area
where we really see our role also to support the
broader research community and policy community in
looking at these issues. We go not just the data
but we have also taken an active role in providing
funding to stimulate research and in
partnership with the University of Kentucky's
Center for Poverty Research we have funded
work that looks at the relationships
between SNAP, Food Security and Health
in the National Health Interview Survey and we've
also funded research that uses the ERS/FNS Survey
called Food Apps, the Food
Acquisition Survey, to look at questions
around food security and policy. So we, as I said it's a
really broad program that engages the community
that's why it's also so great to have so many
people here from different perspectives. We not only make this
for research but if you, anyone wants to go we
try and make it easy for people to
explore the data. We now have data
visualizations on our website where you can go
in and using this program can do some charts
and graphs and add in different features and
just have fun in playing with the data yourself so
I encourage you to go use this on our website and
let me just conclude by really congratulating the
team this is, you know, a day two where I really
like that the second half is it's not just resting
on our laurels it's where do we need to go next
because this is the data show, it's an important
question that needs more research, needs more
investment but we can say that we've
accomplished a lot. We are learning a lot more
because of this measure about the causes and
consequences of food insecurity, we're better
able to evaluate our food and nutrition programs and
I think we really have seen something that I
know will continue as a partnership between many
different groups and perspectives to use and
improve this measure. So congratulations to
the team and thanks for putting on this workshop. (Applause) Thank you Mary for that
overview of work here at ERS. So to conclude this
session we will hear remarks from our great
colleague and collaborator Rich Lucas, Deputy
Administrator for Policy Support at USDA's FNS. As Deputy Administrator,
Rich is responsible for research and analysis that
informs policy making for and management of
different federal nutrition assistance
programs. These programs
include SNAP, School Meals and the WIC
program and are currently budgeted at 100 billion
annually serving in one in four Americans. Rich's team in the Office
of Policy Support includes professionals from a wide
range of disciplines including economists,
statisticians, program evaluators,
sociologists and nutritionists and others
and so it's clear why we want to collaborate
with Rich's group. They work closely with
policymakers and program officials to find answers
to particular questions to make nutrition assistance
programs more effective and to evaluate their
impact of programs of food security, diet quality
and other outcomes. Rich has worked
at FNS since 1994, he's a longtime like me, I
started in at ERS in 1993 so… He holds a degree from
Brown University and Stanford, Rich Lucas. (Applause) Thanks Jay, and
good morning everybody. So, just a quick
comment on, on, on Mary's presentation and
the role of evidence in policy making. It was really
gratifying to me as we, she went through the
studies that sort of were looking at the, the
factors that relate to food insecurity. I was able to watch the
findings and say you know what we put that in
your, in your testimony Mr. Under Secretary. We were actually able to
bring that evidence to bear directly before
Congress, you know, have, have the leadership of
USDA be able to make an evidence based argument
for our programs and it really is the
theme I think, the broader theme into
which this workshop fits and the work that we all,
we all do here because ultimately it is about
figuring out how to meet our mission using the
best evidence available. So two, two sort
of epigrams or, or old sayings came to
mind for me this morning. One is that we all do
our work standing on the shoulders of giants. What's unusual about a
gathering like this is that the giants are
actually here in the room with us so I sort of feel
the same trepidation that Alisha mentioned. It's like I'm going to be
talking to these folks about food security and
food security studies? It's like maybe they
should come tell me a little more because this
is where I learned it all. The other thing that, that
comes to mind is the old adages is what gets
measured gets done and while we know that doesn't
always occur in practice having a clear meaningful
measure to assess problems and track progress
in alleviating food insecurity with these
programs is an extremely important tool. It's an important tool
in any endeavor and it couldn't be more important
than for programs with a mission like the Nutrition
Assistance Programs so it's really especially
gratifying to be able to talk to the folks and with
the folks who created this measure and work with them
through the day to figure out how we can
make it every more, even more effective
and more useful. My role here is to
talk about how we use, use the measure and so a
valid and rigorous measure of food security is an
essential evidence based tool in managing federal
nutrition system programs and policies. What do we do with it? We rely heavily on it both
through the work that we, we sponsor or conduct
and the work of our, our colleagues and
partners at ERS and in the research community to
bring evidence to bear on a variety of different, for
a variety of different purposes, we use it as a
key outcome measure in program evaluations some
of those we've already talked about this morning. We use it as an impact
measure in demonstration projects either as an
outcome of interest of the intervention itself or for
certain interventions one that we're working on now
is the SNAP Employment and Training Demonstrations
that were authorized by the Farm Bill as a measure
to make sure that, that intervention which has
different intended outcomes does no harm with
regard to the core mission of the SNAP program
which of course is to, to reduce food insecurity,
prevent it and improve nutrition. We use it as a tracking
measure to assess program need across geography
and across demographics looking at the role of
disability of household size and composition, race
and ethnicity and overall progress over time in, in
meeting our mission and we use this as an analytical
measure to sort of look at socio-economic factors and
conditions that may be correlated with food
insecurity risk such as food prices, retail, food
access, unemployment, other aspects of wellbeing
or material hardship and look at those as either
causes or consequences related to food
insecurity. So in broad terms we use
this measure throughout the work that we do in
trying to make sure that policymakers
both at USDA, both in the Administration,
the Executive Branch and in Congress and in the
public more generally when they participate in
policy deliberations that everybody has a basis of
strong evidence to make the best policy
decisions possible. So I just want to
share a few, just a, really just a couple of
examples of the kinds of projects in which this
measure has been critical to our work. One that's been very
important that we completed in recent years
is the SNAP Food Security Study. So this was to look at the
actual try to do an impact evaluation SNAP on Food,
on Food Insecurity. Doing that evaluation is
challenging because of course SNAP is an
entitlement program, it's not a controlled
experiment, folks, folks choose, are, are
entitled to enter the program if they are
eligible so the groups or participants and
non-participants differ by the choices that they make
and the differences in their food security status
may reflect differences in those groups rather than
effects of the program. So we've looked in a
number of studies at ways to try to reduce
or to try to, try to look past those
differences that selection bias to understand the
true effect of the program. In this study we did
a, we did a major data collection to try to
minimize selection bias by looking at new entrance
to SNAP households as six months in two
different ways. So we looked at
contemporaneously we looked at new SNAP
entrance and households that have been in for six,
six months and then we also looked longitudinally
at those new entrance after they've been
participating for six months and measure their
food security status using the household food
security measure that we're talking about today
and indeed the results were striking. Participating in SNAP for
six months was associated with a decrease in food
insecurity of about five to ten percentage points
depending on whether you're using the cross
section or longitudinal analysis including
households with food insecurity among children. As you can see we have
significant differences in both of those, in both of
those cohorts and these improvements in food
security held true across subgroups, households with
and without children, households
without elderly, not so much households
with elderly, that's an important
distinction, with and without
disabled folks, generally for households
with income with, with, with the lowest incomes,
below 100 percent of poverty, more mixed
for those of higher, of higher income and
similarly larger affect for the largest
SNAP benefits. When you look at the more,
at the more severe form of food insecurity, very
little food security here again we've found that
SNAP had a significant impact on very low food
security with a decrease of about five to ten, five
to ten percentage points depending on which
analytical lens you use. And indeed we saw
for households with, with child food insecurity
not the most severe but the general category of
child food insecurity again you saw
substantial decreases in food insecurity as a
result of six months of SNAP participation. All of this very strong
evidence of the, of the role of
the program. The one place where we
didn't see as strong an impact as we saw in the
other conditions is very low food security
among children. Here we did, we were
not able to detect a significant, a significant
difference in both of these analysis. In the cross section we
did see a difference, we didn't see it in the
longitudinal analysis. But on the whole I think
this has provided very important evidence of the
value of SNAP and the role that it plays in advancing
its core mission to reduce food insecurity and
the, and the, we were, we've been able to show
here through these findings that SNAP
makes a real impact. We've made that
argument and you, through these findings and
through the measure in a number of different
important venues. One thing I do want to
note as we finish up with this set of slides though
is that while we see that there are substantial
reductions in food insecurity and very little
food security as a result of SNAP we clearly
don't get to zero, there is more that needs
to be done and that is in part a lesson for
policymakers, it's also in part a lesson for the
research community and thinking about what can
we do to strengthen SNAP. Is it a matter of
increasing benefits? Is it a matter of
targeting them differently so those are the kind of
questions that the food security measure will help
us to continue to pursue over time. Another example of a study
I wanted to talk to you about is the Summer
Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children
or SEBTC demonstration. We, we used the measure in
assessing demonstration projects as I
mentioned frequently. This example was the
result of some funding we got in 2010 to test and
rigorously evaluate a variety of methods for
reducing or preventing food insecurity and hunger
among children in the summer months. The largest of those
demonstrations that we conducted was the
Summer EBT for Children Demonstrations which made
use of the EBT systems in SNAP and WIC to provide
household base food assistance to households
with school age children during the summer when
school meals are not available. We were able to serve as,
as you'll see there we got up to about 99,000
children in summer of 2013 with these interventions
and tested it at a couple of different
benefit levels. So in 2012 which was sort
of the first year of operation we did
a randomized control evaluation of the impact
providing a $60.00 per child benefit among, on
food insecurity among children during the summer
when school meals were not available and as
you can see we, we were able to not only
reach a large portion of children, that you can't
see but I will tell you that we were able to
reach up to 75 percent of eligible kids during the
summer which is a far greater reach than we
were able to get with the traditional meal based
summer food service program but more to the
point for our discussion the demonstration reduced
the prevalence of very little food security among
children by about one third and food insecurity
among children by about 19 percent. So, so, so clearly this is
a substantial impact for this additional
$60.00 of benefits. I think the thing
and this is, this is part of the
iterative nature of research, right? The following summer we
were looking to continue these results but we also
recognized that $60.00 a month per child
is a subtan, an extremely costly
intervention and I believe it was my, my colleague
and mentor Steve Carlson who was the one who said
why don't we try $30.00 a month and see, and
then go back and, and, and do the same measures
and see what the relative impact is of $60.00 versus
$30.00 per child per month and so we indeed did that
in 2013 and the results were striking. While the $60.00 benefit
had a stronger affect than the $30.00 benefit on low
food security generally both benefit levels had
similar positive impacts on very low food security
so you get a lot of the bang for the buck if you
will on the most severe form of child food
insecurity with that first $30.00. So based on both
years of evidence, both on the general impact
of SEBTC and looking at the, the difference
that, the, the strong impact even of
a reduced benefit level, the 2016 President's Budget
includes a request to continue and to expand
SEBTC if the government remains open and
appropriations bills are passed we hope we'll have
that funding to continue and expand that program
but here again the measure is a critical tool
to marshal evidence, to drive policy and
program decisions. One other example I want
to mention that relies heavily on the food
security measure is the evaluation for the Child
Hunger Demonstration Projects that were
authorized by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids
Act of 2010. We awarded those projects
in March of this year so this is a work in
progress, this is, this is five projects that
are designed to support innovative approaches to
end child hunger and sites are preparing now
to implement their interventions and we're
working indeed with partners in this room
on the evaluation. So two of the programs are
expanding SNAP benefits for families
with children, one in Virginia will offer
low income students three meals a day and also send
them home with extra food on the weekends, a project
in the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma will deliver
food to households with children who qualify for
free school meals and a project in the Navaho
Nation will employ food access navigators to
look at the food access environment in selected
regions of the reservation and help eligible
households get access to nutrition assistance
programs. These projects will be
evaluated using random assignment and the key
impact metric will be food insecurity among children. So here again we're
applying that measure to find better interventions,
improve the impact of the programs and when we have
that solid evidence those will be the things we'll go
forward to try to scale up. To my mind this is exactly
the model we want to be pursuing when it comes
to evidence base policy. So that's just a few
examples of the important uses we've made of the
Food Security Measure to FNS and as a number of our
speakers have said it's an essential tool to provide
solid information on the relationship between
nutrition assistance and food insecurity and to
make nutrition systems more effective. I'm looking forward to the
discussion today not only to talk about where we've
been but where we're going, what the
refinements and improvements that we can
focus on for the future will be but I'm sort of
mindful of the analogy that comes to mind is we
think about our computers and our expectations
always exceed existing capacity. If you think about sitting
in front of your computer and boy it's so slow to
load that webpage or I can't seem to get that
file to open think about what your computer did
five years ago and compare that to what it
can do today. So in that same vein as
we think about how we're going to improve
the measure, we're going to try to
drill down geographically, drill down
demographically, understand better the
relationship between child and adult food insecurity
those kinds of things think about where we would
be if we didn't have the solid rigorous
measure that we have. We wouldn't have been
able to make all of these inquires, have all of this
information and frankly make the arguments to
make the safety net and maintain the safety net
as strongly as we've been able to do. So I again want to
congratulate the people in this room, the
giants are here, food insecurity
measurement and I look forward to the discussion
today and just want to express my appreciation
for all of you, thanks. (Applause) Thank you Rich that was
a great overview of some (Indistinct) research evaluating the
matter of food assistance programs and
food security. So with, let's, this
concludes the first session, so let's take
about 10 minutes break and gather back and the
session will be more greater when we
get back by Mark Prell.
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