Food >> Notes & Sources

Food: Notes & Sources

Definitions

Basic Food is Washington State’s nutrition-assistance program that provides food-purchasing benefits to qualified low-income households. Under the auspices of this program, Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services seamlessly administers both the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the State-funded food assistance program for legal immigrants.

Confidence Interval (also known as error bar) is the range of values that includes the true value 95% of the time. If the confidence intervals of two groups do not overlap, the difference between groups is considered statistically significant (meaning that chance or random variation is unlikely to explain the difference).   

Food deserts are defined as "… either urban areas lacking access to a supermarket within one mile, or rural areas lacking similar access within 10 miles. Without a convenient and affordable way to buy healthy food, individuals either spend hours traveling or are forced to feed their families significantly less nutritious options, many of which are often more expensive.” Quote from Op Ed by U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz & Bob Brady 1/10/2012, in The Inquirer, http://articles.philly.com/2012-01-10/news/30612043_1_food-deserts-grocery-stores-healthy-food-financing-initiative

Food hardship has been defined by the Food Research and Action Center (http://frac.org/reports-and-resources/food-hardship-data/) as a “yes” answer to the question “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”  Following this standard, Communities Count defines food hardship as an answer of “often” or “sometimes” to the following question on the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS):  “’The food that I/we bought just didn’t last, and I/we didn’t have money to get more.’ Was that often, sometimes, or never true for you/your household in the last 12 months?”

Race/Ethnicity: Federal standards mandate that race and ethnicity (Hispanic origin) are distinct concepts requiring 2 separate questions when collecting data from an individual. "Hispanic origin" is meant to capture the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of an individual (or his/her parents) before arriving in the United States. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race. Communities Count's terms for racial/ethnic groups are derived from those used by the U.S Census Bureau in 2010.

  • Communities Count terms:  Hispanic, Non-Hispanic, White Non-Hispanic, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN), Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI), White, and Multiple Race (Multiple). Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race and are included in other racial categories. Racial/ethnic groups are sometimes combined when sample sizes are too small for valid statistical comparisons of more discrete groups. 
  • 2010 Census terms: Hispanic or Latino, Not Hispanic or Latino, White alone (Not Hispanic or Latino),  Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, Some Other Race, and Two or More Races. 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal nutrition assistance program that provides food-purchasing benefits to qualified low-income households. Washington State’s name for this program is Basic Food, and is administered through the State Department of Social and Health Services.

 

Notes

Technical Notes

Food hardship changes over time:  Before 2011, BRFSS data were collected exclusively via landlines.  Starting in 2011, cell phones were added, enabling the survey to reach a more representative sample of the population.  Because of this change and concurrent changes in methods of adjusting (weighting) the data to reflect the entire King County population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that pre-2011 data is not directly comparable with data from later years. To address concerns about comparability … 

  1. We have re-weighted the 2010 data using the new adjustment method. 
  2. We have examined data from 2011, 2012, and 2013 to make sure the patterns of change over time support findings of differences between 2010 and 2013 data. 

Food hardship missing data:  BRFSS data on the food hardship question were coded “don’t know/not sure” or “refused” for 12.8% of the 2013 sample and 12% of the 2010 sample.  Missing data was associated with race, income, and the cell phone sample. Weighting could not adjust for the missing cases since weighting of the data is done for the sample as a whole.

Food hardship by race/ethnicity: Data for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaska Natives are not reported because of the small number of respondents to this question. Rates are not stable when based on very small numbers.

King County regions: The geographic boundaries of the four King County sub-regions (North, Seattle, East, and South) are defined by the aggregation of zip codes.

Language of BRFSS survey: While not statistically significant, our analyses suggest that Hispanics who took the survey in Spanish were more likely to run out of food money than Hispanics who took the survey in English.

Precision standard not met:  While the sample size is sufficient for us to present a rate, the estimated rate is unstable due to high variability. Results based on this estimate should be interpreted cautiously.

Too few respondents to report:  Survey data with 50 or fewer responses are not reported.

Food Hardship Notes

Caution in interpreting results for King County veterans:  A Boston University study released in November, 2015, Food insecurity in veteran households: findings from nationally representative data, suggests that recent veterans are at greater risk for food insecurity than veterans in the older cohorts that typically reside in King County. Link to summary available at http://www.bu.edu/ssw/2015/11/19/new-study-compares-food-insecurity-in-veteran-and-non-veteran-households/, accessed 11/23/2015.

Caution in interpreting results for King County LGBT adults.  See Food insecurity and SNAP (Food Stamps) participation in LGBT communities by Gary J. Gates, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, February 2014. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Food-Insecurity-in-LGBT-Communities.pdf, accessed 11/23/2015. 

Myth of Gay Affluence in Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/03/the-myth-of-gay-affluence/284570/

 

Data Sources

Basic Food participation:  Data on participation in what is commonly called the "food stamps" program (known as Basic Food in Washington State, and more generally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]) come from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Research & Data Analysis

Farmers market map: Puget Sound Fresh: http://www.pugetsoundfresh.org/markets

Farmers market accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards: Washington State Farmers Market Association

Food bank locations in King County: City of Seattle, Human Services Division, 5/2012. Map created by Public Health-Seattle & King County, Assessment, Policy Development & Evaluation unit, 5/2012. Source for 2012 map was King County Food Banks. For current locations, hours, and phone numbers of food banks, go to go to Food Bank Resource Finder

Food bank use in King County: Provided by Susan Eichrodt, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Food Assistance Programs.

Food Hardship: Data come from the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) as administered in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This telephone survey asked adults the following question: “’The food that I/we bought just didn’t last, and I/we didn’t have money to get more.’ Was that often, sometimes, or never true for you/your household in the last 12 months?”  Responses of “often” or “sometimes” were coded as indicators of food hardship.    

Free or reduced-price meal eligibility: Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington State Child Nutrition Programs, http://www.k12.wa.us/ChildNutrition/Reports/FreeReducedMeals.aspx, accessed 10/31/2013.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program: data from 2002 to 2011 provided by Sheryl Pickering, Washington State Department of Health, WIC Nutrition Program; data from 2012 to 2014 provided by Washington State Department of Health, WIC Annual Summary Data, http://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/HealthBehaviors/WIC, accessed 5/19/2015.

 

Data table for food hardship by region, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Region % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
East 5.1% 731 3.4% 7.6% 8.9% 648 5.9%  13.1%
North 10.1% 210 5.2% 18.8% 4.9% 184 2.2%  10.5%
Seattle 6.3% 947 4.6% 8.6% 12.1% 842 9.0%  16.0%
South 11.9% 937 9.4% 15.0% 18.5% 786 14.6%  23.1%





Data table for food hardship by race/ethnicity, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
 Race/Ethnicity % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
AIAN*                
Asian 8.9% 151  4.5% 16.6% 16.6% 180 10.7% 24.9%
Black 16.6% 80  9.5% 27.3% 13.9% 95 7.8% 23.6%
Hispanic 27.1% 100  18.7% 37.7% 40.9% 89 28.7% 54.3%
Multiple race*                
NHPI*                
White 6.5%  2444  5.3% 7.9% 10.3% 2062 8.4% 12.6%




* Too few cases to protect confidentiality and/or report reliable rates

Data table for food hardship by income, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Income % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
 $15,000 or less 37.5% 124 27.3% 48.9%  57.8% 143 45.8% 68.9%
$15,000 to $24,999 24.4% 301 18.6% 31.4%  35.5% 217 25.7% 46.6%
$25,000 to $34,000  15.4% 237 9.9% 23.1%  22.2% 187 14.1% 33.2%
$35,000 to $49,000 10.2% 345 6.6% 15.5%  9.8% 276 5.2% 17.5%
$50,000 to $74,999 3.7% 404 1.8% 7.5%  1.5% 310 0.4% 5.1%
$75,000 or more 1.4% 1104 0.7% 2.7%  1.8% 1078 1.0% 3.4%






Data table for food hardship by employment, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Employment % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
Employed  6.7% 1516 5.1% 8.7% 8.8% 1402   6.9% 11.3%
Unemployed  16.0% 187 10.5% 23.6% 43.3%  129  31.8% 55.5%
Unable to work  32.5% 104 22.4% 44.6% 53.0%  100  39.6% 66.0%
Homemaker/Student  12.9% 237 8.2% 19.7% 11.9%  236  6.7% 20.1%
Retired  3.8% 789 2.5% 5.8% 9.1%  634  5.4% 14.9% 






Data table for food hardship by disability, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Disability % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
Disability 11.6% 872 9.1% 14.7% 19.6% 707 15.4% 24.7%
No disability 7.1% 1955 5.6% 8.8% 11.0% 1786 8.9% 13.7%




Data table for food hardship by military service, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Military service % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
Non-veteran  8.6% 2493  7.2% 10.2% 13.5% 2234 11.4% 15.9%
Veteran  6.5% 341 3.8% 10.9% 8.7% 276 4.6% 15.9%



 

Data table for food hardship by sexual orientation, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Sexual orientation % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
Heterosexual 8.1% 2672 6.8% 9.6% 12.2% 2333 10.2% 14.4%
LGBTQ 8.2% 119 4.1% 15.9% 21.1% 133 13.0% 32.6%




Data table for food hardship and children in household by region, King County (2010, 2011-2013 average)

 20102011-2013 average
Region / children in household % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
East / children in household 8.0% 245 4.9% 12.9% 3.4% 466 1.9% 5.9%
North / children in household 10.0% 54 3.7% 24.1% 11.9% 97 4.4% 28.3%
Seattle / children in household 10.6% 217 6.4% 17.1% 11.9% 481 7.9% 17.5%
South / children in household 15.7% 239 11.3% 21.5% 19.5% 534 14.9% 25.1%
East / no children in household 2.9% 486 1.4% 5.7% 8.8% 1114 5.7% 13.3%
North / no children in household 10.2% 156 4.2% 22.8% 4.9% 331 2.7% 8.8%
Seattle / no children in household 4.5% 730 3.2% 6.5% 12.2% 1540 9.4% 15.7%
South / no children in household 9.9% 698 7.0% 13.7% 12.9% 1446 10.2% 16.1%







Data table for food hardship and children in household by income, King County (2010, 2011-2013 average)

 20102011-2013 average
Income / children in household % # lower bound upper bound % # lower bound upper bound
$35,000 or less / children in household 42.5% 118 32.4% 53.3% 45.4%  245  36.7% 54.3%
$35,000 to $50,000 / children in household 17.5% 50 8.3% 33.1% 11.8% 109   5.9% 22.2%
$50,000 or more / children in household 3.3% 525 1.9% 5.7% 1.9%  1111  1.0% 3.7%
$35,000 or less / no children in household 17.1% 544 13.3% 21.9% 27.6% 1115   23.1% 32.5%
$35,000 to $50,000 / no children in household 8.0% 295 4.6% 13.5% 7.3%  574  4.1% 12.7%
$50,000 or more / no children in household 1.0% 983 0.4% 2.7% 3.0%  2208  1.8% 4.9%







Data table for food hardship and children in household by relationship status, King County (2010, 2013)

 20102013
Relationship status / children in household % # lower bound upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
Couple / children in household 9.2% 614 6.8% 12.3% 7.5% 537 4.8% 11.5%
Not a couple / children in household 22.1% 142 15.3% 30.8% 25.6% 147 17.1% 36.5%
Couple / no children in household 4.0% 1035 2.5% 6.4% 6.1% 894 3.9% 9.6%
Not a couple / no children in household 10.1% 1026 7.7% 13.2% 20.5% 919 16.6% 25.2%





Data table for food hardship and children in household by disability, King County (2010, 2011-2013 average)

 20102011-2013 average
Disability / children in household % # lower bound  upper bound  % # lower bound upper bound
No disability / children in household 9.2% 612 6.9% 12.2% 11.5% 1332 9.0% 14.5%
Disability / children in household 21.7% 145 14.8% 30.7% 19.5% 266 13.1% 28.0%
No disability / no children in household 5.6% 1343 3.9% 7.9% 8.4% 2889 6.7% 10.5%
Disability / no children in household 8.4% 727 6.2% 11.4% 18.2% 1564 14.8% 22.3%

 

 

 

 

 

Other Sources

Maps of King County covering a wide range of topics can be accessed at http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/GIS/Maps.aspx#PH.  Maps most immediately relevant to Communities Count are under the headings of Community data & demographicsPublic health, and Environment & natural resources, but other maps should be useful as well (farmers markets, transit routes, walking and biking routes, parks, traffic counts, etc.).