UVM researchers measure food insecurity in Vermont during pandemic

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 4:59 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Nearly one-third of Vermonters have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic. That’s one finding from researchers at the University of Vermont in what they say is their most comprehensive look at COVID-19 and hunger in Vermont yet.

They found that since the pandemic started, nearly 30% experienced food insecurity. That’s nearly triple 2018 levels.

And about one in four people ate fewer fruits and veggies, suggesting diet quality decreased. They also ate less red meat and seafood.

Some 33% of the respondents used food assistance programs.

Nearly 40% of households faced job disruptions, whether a loss of a job, reduced income or furloughs. And of those, almost 40% also experienced food insecurity.

The study found those at greater risk for food insecurity included people who made less than $50,000 a year, people whose jobs were disrupted, people without college degrees and people with children.

There were a couple of bright spots: 42% of people said they hunted, gardened, foraged or preserved foods more, many for the first time. And people were helping each other, with most respondents wearing masks and socially distancing and more than 40% delivered food to someone in the community.

Meredith Niles, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of nutrition and food sciences at UVM, joined our Cat Vigliezoni to discuss the findings. Watch the video to see the full interview.

Click here for more on the research.

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