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Tracking Food Expenditures

Over the years, consumers have changed how they acquire food. Foods purchased away-from-home have increased over purchasing food to eat at home. The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) studies all food purchases to get a broad picture of consumer buying habits.

The ERS study looked beyond eating at restaurants to include sources such as airline food, hospital and nursing home food, and prison food. They also looked at food purchased through assistance programs such as food and nutrition assistance programs, meals at work locations, and meals served at government-sponsored locations. In the last two decades, shoppers have increased food expenditures from warehouse club stores and supercenters instead of traditional grocery stores.

Away from home, food purchases are increasing at fast food restaurants while full-service restaurants have remained steady.

For details, see

The complete report can be found at


About Karen Blakeslee

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents. Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics. Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

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