Hunger in America 2010 provides comprehensive and statistically valid data on the national charitable response to hunger and the people served by food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in the Feeding America network.

This report is based on independent research conducted on behalf of Feeding America by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR), a widely respected social policy research firm based in Princeton, New Jersey. MPR is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of human services research. Feeding America contracted with MPR to work with 185 network member participants who voluntarily agreed to collect data in their communities.

All aspects of the study were overseen by an independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The TAG was composed of noted social scientists, including demographers, economists, survey research specialists and statisticians, who reviewed survey instruments, the analysis plan, and the final results. The TAG members’ impartiality, broad range of expertise and regular critical oversight of the project was vital to ensuring that the Hunger in America 2010 project adhered to the highest standards in survey research.

There are two main data sources for Hunger in America 2010: client data and agency data, both of which were collected in the late winter and spring of 2009. Both the client and agency data collection instruments mirror the questionnaires used in 2006 Hunger Study, with a few additional questions that were developed for the 2009 data collection effort. The client data was amassed through face-to-face interviews with randomly selected recipients at emergency feeding sites across the country. Approximately 61,000 individuals offered to share their stories with us, including the circumstances of what led them to the pantry, kitchen or shelter at which they were interviewed. Their willingness to participate in this study makes it possible for us to better understand who seeks emergency food assistance and why. Participating food banks also mailed surveys to each of their member agencies, seeking information on the services available to low-income Americans, and their agencies' needs and stability. The study amassed more than 37,000 agency survey responses nationwide.

Each of the participating food banks provided MPR with the information needed to develop their sampling frame and were responsible for data collection within their service area. In order to ensure data collection standardization across the country, MPR conducted three regional, two-day in-depth training sessions for all participating members of the study. MPR also provided technical assistance with the implementation of the agency and client surveys. MPR was responsible for data analysis and the writing of the national and local reports, a process which occurred during summer and fall 2009.