Panel: Measuring the Many Dimensions of Food Insecurity and its Consequences
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Burnham (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Sarah Hamersma, Center for Policy Research
Panel Chairs:  Laura Tiehen, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Discussants:  Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois

Conceptualizing and Measuring Food Insecurity: Is Household Food Insecurity Multidimensional Among Households with Children?
George Engelhard, Jr.1, Matthew P. Rabbitt2 and Jeremy Kyle Jennings1, (1)University of Georgia, (2)U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Effect of SNAP and the Broader Safety Net on Mental Health and Food Insecurity
Lucie Schmidt, Lara Shore-Sheppard and Tara Watson, Williams College

Risky Adolescent Behaviors and the Role of Food Insecurity
Colleen Heflin, Syracuse University, Sharon Acevedo, Central Michigan University and Rajeev Darolia, University of Kentucky

Does Early Food Insecurity Impede the Educational Access Needed to Become Food Secure?
Sarah Hamersma, Center for Policy Research and Matthew Kim, University of St. Thomas

Measuring the nature and consequences of food insecurity in the U.S. is an ongoing challenge.  This panel addresses this challenge by starting with a discussion of issues that arise in developing meaningful measures of food insecurity.  The first paper in the panel addresses the potential for interpreting the USDA food security scale as emerging from an underlying bi-factor model in which adult and child food security are distinct phenomena (rather than two portions of a unidimensional “household food security”).  The importance of understanding and using these food security data appropriately becomes clear in the other three papers in the session, which examine connections between food security and several other facets of well-being.  In the first of these papers, food insecurity is examined alongside mental health in an effort to understand the potential role of food assistance for those who may face both food access and mental health challenges.  The second paper examines linkages between food insecurity and risky behaviors in adolescents that may have long-term consequences.  The session concludes with a study looking at the intergenerational transmission of food insecurity and, in particular, the potential for early food insecurity to compromise educational access for young adults.  The many dimensions examined in this panel help make clear both the challenges of measuring food insecurity and in identifying its many causes and consequences.  However, in bringing these issues to light we are able to continue developing a more solid foundation of understanding food insecurity – an elusive, yet vitally important and policy-relevant concern in the U.S. today.

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