Massachusetts saw an overall increase in food insecurity of 55 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to a new survey conducted by The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) in collaboration with the National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT) and funded by the Hunger to Health Collaboratory (H2HC) and Stop & Shop, founding member of H2HC.
Latinx and Black residents, who were impacted at higher rates by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects, were also disproportionately impacted when it came to food insecurity, perpetuating disparities that existed before the pandemic. Among the barriers to food access revealed in the report, self-reliance and stigma were found to be some of the top reasons for gaps in food assistance utilization.
The study, “Gaps in Food Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Massachusetts,” was conducted by GBFB’s Business and Data Analytics team and led by GBFB epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Zack. The researchers polled 3,000 residents online between October 2020 and January 2021 and estimated that 30 percent – or 1.6 million adults in the state – were experiencing food insecurity at the time of the survey. Among Massachusetts residents, 58 percent of Latinx adults, 45 percent of Black adults, 26 percent of Asian adults, 24 percent of White adults and 42 percent of adults with children reported experiencing food insecurity.
The statewide survey was conducted to identify the prevalence of food insecurity during COVID-19, as well as gaps and disparities in food assistance use, and to develop data-driven recommendations to increase food access. Low-income adults were oversampled to reach those most likely in need of food assistance and statistical methods were used to obtain estimates representative of the Massachusetts population.
More information is available in the BGFB report here.