Date of Award
Meredith T. Niles
COVID-19 has highlighted the uncertainty and fragility of food security and food access globally. In the United States, unemployment rates reached unprecedented levels at their height in April 2020 (Congressional Research Service, 2020), causing concerns among many Americans about how to access affordable and high-quality food (Callen, 2020). In a rural state such as Vermont, these concerns are especially pressing, as rural areas are estimated to have 50% higher rates of food insecurity than urban areas (Piontak et al., 2014). The stress of this unprecedented period has also had an effect on the mental well-being of many Americans. In a survey from the United States Census Bureau from May 2020, early in the pandemic, respondents reported feeling anxious 30% of the time, and more than 18% reported feeling depressed (Callen, 2020). Opportunities to both improve mental health and food security are thus vital during this pandemic period. Existing evidence suggests that home food procurement (i.e. backyard livestock, fishing, foraging, gardening, hunting, and canning, and backyard livestock production, hereafter referred to as HFP) may offer opportunities to improve diet quality, food security, and mental health via multiple mechanisms. This project explored whether interest and engagement in these activities has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and if such strategies are providing these health and mental health outcomes.
Wirkkala, Kristen; Niles, Meredith T.; Belarmino, Emily; and Bertmann, Farryl, "The Fruits of Labor: Home Food Procurement Impacts Food Security, Diet Quality and Mental Health During COVID-19" (2021). Food Systems Master's Project Reports. 16.