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Mar 25 -- The Economic Research Service (ERS) invites comments to OMB by April 27, 2022 regarding its proposal to conduct the Second National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS-2) Field Test.

The mission of ERS is to provide timely research and analysis to public and private decision makers on topics related to agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America. To achieve this mission, ERS requires a variety of data that describe agricultural production, food distribution channels, availability and price of food at the point of sale, and household demand for food products. Section 17 (U.S.C. 2026)(a)(1) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 provides legislative authority for the planned data collection.
 
The main objective of the Field Test is to test the final design and procedures for the Full Survey data collection. The Field Test will make use of the latest smartphone and computer technologies to collect data on foods acquired and to monitor data as well as implement a monetary incentives scheme to encourage report of foods acquired throughout the entire survey period. The data collection will provide information that is critical to ERS' plans for the next round of FoodAPS data collection. The data will be analyzed and used to finalize design and data collection protocol for the Full Survey.
 
In 2009, ERS sponsored FoodAPS-1, which was fielded in 2012, to support these data needs to describe agricultural production, food distribution channels, availability and price of food at the point of sale, and household demand for food products. In 2016 ERS sponsored a Pilot Test to inform the sample design and data collection method(s) for FoodAPS-2. ERS and FNS are now sponsoring FoodAPS-2. ERS and FNS’s plan is to collect data for the FoodAPS-2 Field Test over a four-month period in 2022. The full survey would then start in 2023. This current submission is for the Field Test only.

FoodAPS-1 was the first nationally representative survey of American households to collect comprehensive information about food purchased or otherwise acquired. Availability of FoodAPS-1 data in both restricted and public-use format has spurred a large number of valuable research projects. USDA now has a need for updated information on the food acquisition behaviors of American households. Local food environments, Federal (and State) food assistance programs and eligibility requirements, the composition of American households, and the tastes and preferences for food and nutrition knowledge have changed since 2012 when FoodAPS-1 was implemented. With FoodAPS-2, ERS is seeking to build on the successes of FoodAPS-1 and improve data collection quality and efficiency.

In addition, FoodAPS-2 includes a change in the sampling design increasing the number of WIC participants expected to be in the sample. This oversampling of WIC households will allow for analyses of their acquisition patterns, food access, nutrition status, and maternal and child health in comparison to other populations.

Unlike in FoodAPS-1, most respondents in FoodAPS-2 will use a native smartphone application (named FoodLogger) to record daily information about food acquisitions. This change of data collection mode is expected to reduce respondent burden, improve data quality, and reduce data processing costs. The primary goal of the Field Test is to evaluate and finalize main survey design procedures and data collection protocols for Full Survey data collection, with the exception of the final interview. The planned final interview for the Full Survey data collection will be replaced with a debriefing interview to collect data from Field Test participants on their experiences with the new native smartphone app designed to reduce respondent burden. The debriefing interview will facilitate the evaluation of the FoodLogger.

The implementation of the Field Test will also aim to create a database that allows the following research question to be answered: What is an optimal incentive strategy among strategies considered that will stem the drop-off in reporting across the week? It is critical to the success of FoodAPS that respondents complete the Food Log each day of the data collection week. Both FoodAPS-1 and the National Food Study (NFS) Pilot suffered from reporting attrition throughout the data collection week; a goal for the Full Survey is to reduce this attrition rate and to minimize the potential for nonresponse bias. Therefore, the Field Test will include an incentive experiment that varies the amount of incentive a respondent can receive for Food Log completion during the week. To evaluate the effectiveness of this protocol, a split sample incentive design is proposed.

Using findings from FoodAPS-1, an article by ERS staff for Food Policy identified areas where more attention might be needed in future surveys such as FoodAPS-2. Modifications to the proposed FoodAPS-2 Field Test instruments and protocols took into consideration recommendations from this article. Specifically, the Field Test will improve on the following items:

The Field Test will use an electronic food diary, accessible both via an Internet browser and through a native smartphone application, instead of hard copy paper diaries to reduce response burden and improve data quality.
The electronic food diary survey, also referred to as the Food Log, will gather information about the local diversity of food products (e.g., ethnic foods, foods with private market labels).
The food diary will facilitate a fuller understanding of food demand in the United States, by gathering more detail on food obtained for free.
A redesigned income questionnaire will improve on FoodAPS-1’s ability to capture gross earnings. In FoodAPS-1, nearly half of all respondents reported net rather than requested gross earnings.
FoodAPS-2 will use geographical information technology to capture better information about the local food environment (e.g., locations of retail food locations), adding substantial value to research.
At the conclusion of FoodAPS-2, we will work with SNAP and WIC agencies to match survey data to administrative sources (not planned for the Field Test).

FoodAPS website: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/foodaps-national-household-food-acquisition-and-purchase-survey/
FoodAPS-2 Field Test submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202202-0536-002 Click IC List for forms, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FR notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-06316

For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, the AEA Committee on Economic Statistics offers "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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