The National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
Food Ap Infographic

The National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey was the first nationally representative survey of American households to collect unique and comprehensive data about household food choices and expenditures. Mathematica collected information from 4,826 households over a seven-day period about foods acquired for home preparation and consumption; foods acquired and consumed away from home; and household characteristics, including income, nonfood expenditures, food security, health status, and diet and nutrition knowledge. The survey included data from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households, low-income households not participating in SNAP, and higher income households.

We designed the survey to support research on the following issues:

  • Patterns of shopping behavior and food choice
  • Influence of choice of retailer on dietary quality
  • Role of food pricing and household income on demand for food
  • Relationship between food acquisition patterns and levels of food security
  • Role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in overall household food acquisitions

FoodAPS was a cross-sectional study using a multistage design. Mathematica completed a field test with 400 households in spring 2011 and conducted the full-scale survey with 4,826 households between April 2012 and January 2013. We asked eligible households to track all household food acquisitions over a one-week period. In each participating household, we designated the primary food shopper as the primary respondent for interviews and asked them to track food acquisitions in a food book and using a handheld scanner. All other household members ages 11 and older were also asked to track their food acquisitions in a food book.

FoodAPS restricted data are available to researchers from USDA's Economic Research Service.