Nearly one in three Vermonters have experienced food insecurity since the pandemic's onset, including eating less to stretch their groceries, find UVM researchers Meredith Niles (left), Emily Belarmino (center) and Farryl Bertmann (right). Photo: Andy Duback.
BASIL D.N. WAUGH
November 22, 2020
Food insecurity in Vermont has reached record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 30% of Vermonters experiencing food insecurity since March, new University of Vermont research finds.
With Thanksgiving approaching, the research is the most comprehensive study of COVID-19’s impacts on food security in the Green Mountain State to date.
Since the pandemic’s onset, the UVM research team finds:
“This research shows that nearly one-in-three Vermonters have experienced food insecurity since COVID-19, with many using food assistance or eating less to stretch their groceries,” said Meredith Niles of the University of Vermont. “The fact that people have been hit so hard, despite Vermont’s strong performance on COVID-19, shows how devastating the pandemic has been both in Vermont and nationally.”
The study focused on the pandemic’s first five months (March to September). Researchers used surveys to track food insecurity changes in a statewide representative sample (race, ethnicity, income) of over 600 Vermonters. The team released two earlier reports looking at food insecurity at the onset of the outbreak (24% in March/April), and over the following three months (25% from May-July).
“The dual health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing inequities and disproportionately impacted low-income families,” said co-author Emily Belarmino of UVM’s Nutrition and Food Sciences Dept. “Even in Vermont, which is regarded nationally as having a resilient food system, communities continue to experience food insecurity.”
This research results from Vermont members of the National Food Access and COVID research Team (NFACT), a collaboration between the University of Vermont, Johns Hopkins University, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona.
NFACT is national, collaborative effort to examine COVID-19’s impacts on food access, food security and food systems, with collaborators from 17 study sites across 15 states, and led by Meredith Niles, a UVM Assistant Professor of Food Systems and Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment.
“A big takeaway is that pandemic food insecurity compounds,” said co-author Farryl Bertmann of UVM’s Nutrition and Food Sciences Dept. “These results also highlight the depth of need for additional financial support and food assistance.”
This research is supported by rapid response funding from UVM’s Office of the Vice President of Research, the Gund Institute for Environment, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the ARS Center for Food Systems Research.