Policy Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Insecurity in Rural America: Evidence from Appalachia

Country: United States
State / Locale: Appalachian Community, KY
Population: Rural Communities
Community Engagement (IAP2 Spectrum): Consult
Equity: People Place Process

Study Description:
In Spring 2021, this study conducted five focus groups to understand how residents of a rural Appalachian community in Kentucky dealt with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their access to food. The participants in the focus groups were adults from the community. The discussions were recorded and later transcribed word-for-word by researchers and graduate students who received appropriate training. The researchers used a Grounded Theory Approach to analyze the data collected from these focus groups. They carefully examined the information to identify common themes and patterns that emerged regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic affected people's ability to access food and the quality of their diets. From the interviews with rural community members, four main themes emerged, explaining the impact of COVID-19 on food access; food scarcity and supply chain disruptions, expanded federal food assistance, expanded food resources, and home gardening. These themes shed light on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected food access in the rural Appalachian community and the different strategies people used to cope with the challenges they faced. The study helps us learn what has worked well in rural communities to address food access challenges during a public health emergency and how others can assist in their ongoing efforts.

Cardarelli, K. M., DeWitt, E., Gillespie, R., Graham, R. H., Norman-Burgdolf, H., & Mullins, J. T. (2021). Policy implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecurity in rural America: evidence from Appalachia. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(23), 12792.