New Study: Food Insecurity Decreased During Pandemic for Low-Income Adults

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on February 13, 2024

In this Spotlight exclusive, we speak with Rishi Wadhera about a new study on how pandemic assistance decreased food insecurities in low-income communities. Wadhera, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Section Head of Health Policy and Equity at the Smith Center, helped research the impact of pandemic-era food assistance. The Smith Center focuses on understanding the effects of state and federal health policies on health equity, care quality and delivery, and health outcomes. “The primary reason we were interested in the study was because, as we know now, during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, food insecurity spiked, especially amongst low-income families,” says Wadhera. Healthcare experts were concerned that the spike in food insecurity would have negative health effects later on, specifically with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Wadhera and the team examined data from the National Health Interview Survey and found that food insecurity decreased nationally to 15% in 2021, a 5% drop from the 21% pre-pandemic levels. In 2022 however, the team found that as pandemic-era benefits were eliminated, food insecurity rates slowly returned to pre-pandemic levels.

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