Regional differences in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food sufficiency in California, April-July, 2020: Implications for food programs and policies

Public Health Nutr. 2021 Apr 30:1-23. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021001889. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate regional differences in factors associated with food insufficiency during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic among three major metropolitan regions in California, a state with historically low participation rates in the Supplementation Nutrition Assistance Program, the nation’s largest food assistance program.

DESIGN: Analysis of cross-sectional data from Phase 1 (April 23 – July 21, 2020) of the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, a weekly national online survey.

SETTING: California, and three Californian Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSAs.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged 18 years and older living in households.

RESULTS: Among the three metropolitan areas, food insufficiency rates were lowest in the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley MSA. Measures of disadvantage (e.g. having low-income, being unemployed, recent loss of employment, and pre-pandemic food insufficiency) were widely associated with household food insufficiency. However, disadvantaged households in the San Francisco Bay Area, the area with the lowest poverty and unemployment rates, were more likely to be food insufficient compared to those in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSAs.

CONCLUSIONS: Food insufficiency risk among disadvantaged households differed by region. To be effective, governmental response to food insufficiency must address the varied local circumstances that contribute to these disparities.

PMID:33928894 | DOI:10.1017/S1368980021001889