Vermont Business Magazine Food insecurity in Vermont has reached record levels during the Covid-19 pandemic with nearly one in three Vermonters experiencing food insecurity at some point since March 2020. Today, new research from the University of Vermont finds nearly two-thirds (62%) of these Vermonters. were still food insecure a year after the start of the pandemic.
More than half of survey respondents said they experienced a work disruption during the pandemic, such as job loss, reduced work hours or earnings, or time off. Of these, 18.2% were still suffering a work stoppage one year after the start of the pandemic. However, only 1 in 5 people who experienced a job interruption have been made unemployed at any time during the first year of the pandemic.
Vermonters who remained food insecure in March 2021 were more likely to still experience a job disruption and to have been food insecure before the start of the pandemic. Additionally, those most likely to experience food insecurity include people without a university degree (4.1 times more), women (2.4 times more), households with children (2.4 times more) and people under 55 (twice as many).
âWhat we are seeing is that the pandemic is likely to have a longer term impact,â Niles said. âA lot of people have faced long-term job disruptions and while some may be back to work, that doesn’t mean they aren’t facing financial hardship yet. “
Yet despite the high and sustained levels of food insecurity, fewer respondents reported using federal food assistance programs and pantries in March 2021 compared to the start of the pandemic, or before the pandemic for some programs. . And overall, concerns about higher food prices or the possible loss of food aid programs are diminishing since the start of the pandemic.
“The lower use of food aid programs and pantries may be a good sign, but given that rates of food insecurity remain above pre-pandemic levels, it suggests that some people may be without help, “said Ashley McCarthy, postdoctoral researcher in the department. of nutritional and food sciences. âThis is a subject that we will continue to examine, especially as the pandemic persists and new variants emerge. “
This research is supported by rapid response funding from the Office of the Vice President of Research at UVM, the Gund Institute for Environment, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the ARS Center for Food Systems Research.