During the first month of the U.S. coronavirus lockdown,about a quarter of people surveyed said they did not have enough food in their homes to last two weeks, according to the results of a COVID-19 consumer poll distributed by the Main Line Health Center for Population Health Research (CPHR) at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research.
Food insecurity was even more widespread among those whose annual household income is $25,000 or less. In that cohort, 31 percent of respondents said they lacked enough food in their homes to last them two weeks.
“We know that many factors contribute to health status,” said Sharon Larson, PhD, CPHR’s executive director. “We wanted to get a good idea of how people were handling the pandemic,because that could better inform Main Line Health clinicians when treating patients both today and tomorrow. The food insecurity uncovered from the survey suggest clinicians in the future may begin seeing some patients with conditions complicated by dietary challenges during the pandemic.”
The survey also asked about food availability in households during the past year. Results showed that about 10 percent of respondents reported feeling worried during the past year that their food would run out before they had enough money to buy more. And 6 percent of respondents reported that their food did not last long enough before they had money to purchase more.
CPHR investigators devised and distributed the online survey that sought to gauge how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting people’s health,wellness, careers and finances. The survey was distributed online at the beginning of the U.S. lockdown, from March 19 through April 24, 2020. About 5,600 people from around the country answered all or most of the survey questions. Results are anonymous and are being used for research purposes only.
The CPHR team is compiling these and other results of the survey and submitting papers to peer-reviewed journals. In this way, CPHR investigators are helping to alert the larger health care community of the possible downstream implications of both the pandemic and the more generalized food insecurity in our communities.