New Article: Pandemic Made Unequal Access to Food Even Worse, Study Suggests

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on September 7, 2021

In this Spotlight Exclusive, Armita Kar, a doctoral student at the Ohio State University, discusses a new study which found that unequal access to food was exacerbated in the Columbus, Ohio area during the pandemic period – a finding the research team expects to find similar evidence for nationally. Kar and the other members of the team evaluated the existing socioeconomic disparities in access to supermarkets and grocery stores. Researchers found that low-income people in Columbus were mostly served by local stores and dollar stores, which offer cheaper options but rarely fresh produce, and did not have nearby big box stores or mid-to-high-end stores. While some lower income people used to make longer-distance travel to supermarkets, that mostly disappeared during COVID as transportation options became more limited. In contrast, bigger supermarkets had a higher percentage of visitors who were White and higher-income and who were able to quickly switch to online shopping when the pandemic started, allowing them to stockpile resources. Kar hopes the study will help inform efforts to support lower income groups in the post-pandemic recovery. β€œThe lessons learned from this research will help us rebuild our communities with greater resilience and be better prepared for future pandemics,” says Kar.

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