For this month’s episode, we examined how the pandemic has revealed the “hidden crisis” of food insecurity throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.
According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, food insecurity is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money or other resources. For example, this could mean cutting down on the number of meals or changing the types of food that you eat to save money.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the issue of food insecurity moved to the forefront as many people lost their jobs, schools went virtual and scrambled to set up school lunch pickups, supply chains stumbled, and food banks and community refrigerators flooded with people seeking food to feed their families. While we would argue that food insecurity was never a “hidden crisis,” the pandemic worsened it for many children and families.
We spoke to Muzi Na, Ph.D., M.H.S., Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences and the Broadhurst Career Development Professor for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Penn State University, and Vonda Ramp, M.S., R.D., State Director of Child Nutrition Programs at the Division of Food and Nutrition in the Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management within the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PA DOE), about who has been impacted by food insecurity and what is being done to help people access healthy food in their communities.