Table of Contents
This data approach integrates various data to link modeled food insecurity vulnerability, social safety and emergency feeding distribution, estimate impact of distribution on vulnerability, compiled self-reported food insecurity data for validation, and links to response frameworks to address extant need. Potential and existing efforts are outlined as well as issues and recommendations for data access.
<aside> 📌 Model food insecurity to project spatial and temporal need
Food Insecurity Vulnerability Modeling
Food insecurity modeling approaches generally involve compiling demographic data at a given level of spatial granularity and projecting an expected food insecurity rate among a certain population. Arguably the most commonly referenced model/data is Map The Meal Gap produced by Feeding America. While regularly updated and robust, the model only provides data at the county level and for the overall and child populations, which limits utility for local planning.
A robust model that functions spatially at the census level and various facets demographically was developed to assess and project food insecurity in Atlanta. Their study on The Suburbanization of Food Insecurity: An Analysis of Projected Trends in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area brought together researchers from the University of Georgia and the Atlanta Food Bank to produce spatial and temporal forecasts of food insecurity.
Discussion with lead researcher Dr. Jerry Shannon provided insight on the model approach as well access to the code used for the study. The study engaged a demographer to work on population estimation, fortunately the Hawaii Data Collaborative's Synthetic Population Model may afford a useful mechanism to develop a similar approach locally.
<aside> 📌 Track resource distribution to assess safety net program coverage
The multiple social safety net systems for food access span federal, state, county, civil society, and community managed efforts, each with distinct data systems and data collection and release timelines.
Federal food assistance programs enable food access through various means and are targeting at distinct populations. The chart below, adapted from Feeding America, shows the spread and focus of these programs.
Federal Food Assistance Programs
Among the various federal food assistance programs the most public facing and broadly accessible is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and administered at the state level by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment & Support Services Division (BESSD).
Federal SNAP data releases periodically summarize data at scales ranging from national to state to congressional district. Additionally, monthly FNS reporting shares data on sums of persons, households, and benefits at the state level.