Understanding food insecurity in Los Angeles county During the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath: A qualitative interview study.

Publication date: Mar 29, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic brought increases in food insecurity in Los Angeles (L. A.) County, defined as lacking household access to adequate food because of limited money or other resources. Here, we aimed to understand the lived experiences of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. In August-December 2022, we interviewed 30 residents of L. A. County who were participants in an ongoing internet panel and had reported experiencing food insecurity between April 2020 and July 2021. A stratified-sampling approach was used to recruit a diverse sample with and without government food assistance. We report five key findings, which underscore the stress and worry associated with the experience of food insecurity, and the coping strategies people implemented: (1) The pandemic prompted food insecurity as well as stressful shifts in eating behaviors compared to before the pandemic, with some eating much less food, some eating less nutritious food, and some eating much more due to being stuck at home; (2) Buying food became more effortful and financially challenging; (3) government food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was important for reducing food insecurity, but was sometimes insufficient, inconsistent, and didn’t cover all retailers or food items; (4) Interviewees had to rely on their social networks, food banks or pantries, churches, and schools to meet their food needs and cope with food insecurity, but some faced barriers in doing so; (5) For some, food insecurity was worse in late 2022, almost two years after the pandemic started. We conclude with implications for policymakers and practitioners, emphasizing the importance of meeting the needs of diverse residents and addressing food insecurity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concepts Keywords
Eating COVID-19
July Food insecurity
Pandemic SNAP


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO report

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