Health Forward Foundation Cost of
Food Insecurity
AboutExpand About
Calculator Limitations

We developed the Cost of Food Insecurity Calculator based on peer-reviewed literature and available data. The goal was to create a methodologically sound calculator that can conservatively estimate the impact of food insecurity and demonstrate the benefits of policy intervention programs. However, as with any calculator, there are some limitations to keep in mind.

  • The calculator uses data from a variety of studies, most of which are based on self-reported information. With lost productivity estimates, there may be some reporting and recollection bias resulting in an underreporting of days missed on the job or productivity impacts. If so, estimates of lost productive time and associated costs may be underestimated. Additionally, there are alternative schools of thought that debate the direct impact of food insecurity on certain chronic diseases. Conservative estimates have been used whenever there were discrepancies in the data to neither overstate the cost burden nor the positive impact of policy measures.
  • The calculator relies on the human capital approach to represent the value of time missed from work or from decreased productivity. This approach assumes that an employee’s compensation is directly related to the output, or productivity, of that employee.
  • When an employee is absent, a company may replace the employee with a temporary worker, incurring replacement costs that are likely to be equal to or higher than the absent employee’s compensation. Or, the employer may elect not to replace the employee, and suffer a loss in output, which is also related to the employee’s compensation. In both cases, the employee’s daily compensation is used as a proxy for the impact to the company.
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