Chandana Maitra,  School of Economics Discussion Paper No. 523 June 2014, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

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This paper primarily addresses the issue of food access in urban India by investigating into the possibility of constructing an experience-based measure of food access following the U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module (US HFSSM), on the basis of a survey conducted in 500 households in the slums of Kolkata, India, in 2010-11. In past, National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) attempted to measure food insecurity, subjectively, by asking a single question based on whether or not a household gets two square meals a day but the survey apparently produced estimates too low to be believed. In the absence of reliable official data on self-reported hunger, it may be worthwhile to explore other methods of constructing such experiential measure of food access such as the US HFSSM. The questionnaire was administered in Bengali, based on which a nine-item food security scale was constructed according to which, 15.4% of the Kolkata slum households were food insecure including 2.6% severely food insecure. The finding has important implications for food security measurement and targeting in view of the fact that the experiential measure provides an alternative indicator of food access which can be used in conjunction with the existing indicators like calorie intake and nutritional status, for better identification of the food insecure households which makes targeting more cost-effective.