Volunteers at the Winooksi Food Shelf follow new COVID-19 safety protocols and arrange a Saturday food pick-up program outdoors. "Vermont Edition" talks about rising food insecurity and relief programs. Matthew Smith/Vermont Public Radio

The University of Vermont, in collaboration with researchers at the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, are leading a national effort to understand the impact of COVID-19 on food systems and food security.  The Vermont team is led by Dr. Meredith Niles, in collaboration with Dr. Farryl Bertmann and Dr. Emily Belarmino, all in UVM’s Nutrition and Food Sciences Department.

The research began in Vermont in late March and will continue for the coming year, and possibly beyond. Below are links to key research briefs, news, and additional information about the scale and scope of the work. 

The research team is excited to collaborate with other researchers throughout the country, so please be in touch if you are interested.

The Research Approach and Existing Data:
The team is committed to quickly disseminating the results of their research to inform active policy and decision-making efforts.  Surveys are informed by discussion with key stakeholders in the state and nationally and are designed to respond to pressing information needs pertaining to food security and food systems.

There are three major research efforts, which build on the same survey tools:

  1. Vermont study: The first round was launched at the end of March 2020, with a follow-up survey conducted in late May with a subset of people who participated in the March survey.  Surveys will continue to track these individuals over the coming year to understand their perceptions, behaviors, and experiences related to food access, as well as any changes.
  2. National study: The survey will be launched to a nationally representative sample in early June and again on multiple occasions throughout the coming year.
  3. National and state collaborations: The team is working with researchers across more than a dozen other states to replicate the study in their regions.

Our Research in the News:

Before survey was disseminated:

  • UVM Survey on Coronavirus Impact on Food Insecurity: Three faculty in Nutrition and Food Sciences — Meredith Niles, Farryl Bertmann and Emily Morgan (now Belarmino)— spoke about the survey they began fielding this week on the coronavirus’s impact on food insecurity in the state. Dave Gram Show, WDEV
  • UVM survey on impact of coronavirus on food insecurity: Picked up our press release on the survey project, led by Meredith Niles in Nutrition and Food Science. Vermont Business Magazine
  • Food insecurity and impacts of the coronavirus: A studio interview with Meredith Niles on the survey.  WCAX
  • UVM researchers survey Vermonters about food access during COVID-19 crisis: More coverage of this UVM-led survey. VtDigger
  • Researchers Launch Online Survey To Gauge Coronavirus Impact On Food Systems VPR
  • UVM Survey Explores the Coronavirus and Food Insecurity: More publicity for this survey, led by Meredith Niles, in Nutrition and Food Sciences. She has received 2,000 responses after two days. Seven Days

Coverage of survey results:

  • Health impact of unemployment during COVID-19 pandemic: More coverage in a national publication of UVM survey on coronavirus and food insecurity. Healio
  • Food insecurity up in Vermont during pandemic, UVM survey finds: Reported on result of survey. VtDigger
  • Rising Food Insecurity And Hunger Relief Amid The Pandemic: Nutrition and Food Science assistant professor Meredith Niles, the principal investigator on the food insecurity/coronavirus survey, was one of the guests on the program. Vermont Edition, VPR
  • UVM Study finds food insecurity in Vermont is rising amid COVID-19 outbreak: An interview with the study’s principal investigator, Meredith Niles. Fox44/Ch. 22
  • UVM Survey: Food Insecurity in Vermont Rose 33% During Pandemic:  Vermont Business Magazine
  • Food Insecurity in Vermont Has Risen 33% During Pandemic: Health News Digest
  • UVM Survey: Food insecurity in Vermont has risen 33% during pandemic UVM Today
  • The Deeper Dig: The hunger problem ahead: VT Digger

Coverage of related projects:

  • NMSU researchers launch survey on COVID-19 impact on food security, access: NMSU press release

The Vermont Research Team:

  • Dr. Meredith Niles, Assistant Professor, University of Vermont
  • Dr. Farryl Bertmann, Senior Lecturer, University of Vermont
  • Dr. Emily Belarmino (née Morgan), Assistant Professor, University of Vermont


If you are interested in collaborating on this effort, or if you have any other questions about this research please contact Dr. Meredith Niles at mtniles@uvm.edu.