About the Study

Hunger in America 2014 makes numerous innovative improvements to a twenty-year-old quadrennial study series.

Rich data from two widely distributed surveys comprise the basis for the Hunger in America 2014results. For the first time in this study’s history, almost all data were collected through electronic surveys, which supports a higher level of data monitoring and quality checks.

The surveys were conducted in two sequential stages: first, Feeding America network partner agencies completed the Agency Survey; then, clients at select partner agencies’ food programs completed the Client Survey. The Agency Survey was fielded from October 2012 to January 2013 among the partner agencies of all participating food banks. The Agency Survey contained detailed questions about partner agencies’ services, capacity and food distribution, including a specific set of additional questions regarding the individual food programs operated by the partner agency.

The Client Survey, fielded from April through August 2013, was implemented through a vast force of data collectors, a majority of whom were volunteers, recruited by each participating food bank. At least 6,000 data collectors were trained and registered to carry out client data collection. In lieu of face-to-face interviews used in years past, Hunger in America 2014 utilized touchscreen tablet computers and a proven computer software program that allows respondents to simultaneously read and have survey questions read to them through private headphones, maximizing confidentiality.  Data collectors followed a prescribed study plan in order to select a random sample of clients at 12,500 food programs across the Feeding America network. More than 60,000 clients responded to questions about themselves, their households, and the circumstances that led them to seek assistance from the charitable food network.

Feeding America’s participating food banks contributed to the successful execution of the study design by fulfilling important roles throughout data collection. The research vendor Westat conducted analysis of the data collected and, together with the Urban Institute, produced the national and local reports in the spring and summer of 2014.

Differences between HIA 2014 and Previous Hunger Studies

Hunger in America 2014 marks a departure from past versions in design enhancements. In addition to the use of technology as the primary platform for data collection, the scope of this study was expanded to include not just programs classified as traditional “emergency food assistance”—pantries, kitchens, and shelters—but also non-emergency programs such as senior programs and residential facilities. Including this broader universe was intended to reflect the diversity of food programs across the Feeding America network.

Client interviews were also conducted at a much larger number of agencies sites across the country approximately double the number in Hunger in America 2010 to better capture the diversity of programs and clients in the Feeding America network.  However, programs feeding children exclusively were notably underrepresented due to the inability to survey minors. While this expansion allowed for the inclusion of more programs, previous studies’ findings are not comparable to the 2014 results.

·        For more detail on the study’s methodology, please see the technical volume [PDF]

Individuals and/or organizations interested in engaging in their own research can request to use the HIA 2014 datasets.

Meet our Technical Advisory Group that works with Feeding America on all our research efforts.

An erratum related to current military service can be found here.


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