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Consuming fresh produce and low-fat food products is desirable to maintain a healthy diet. Restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in disruptions in the food supply and difficulties in access to fresh produce and low-fat products.
To assess food access to fresh produce and low-fat products among SNAP-eligible Virginians during COVID-19.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
An online Qualtrics cross-sectional survey was conducted with SNAP-eligible Virginians aged 18 and older in November-December 2020.
Survey questions included socio-demographic information and questions about access to, and quality of, fresh produce and low-fat products within the respondents’ neighborhoods. Descriptive statistics were computed in SPSS.
Of 973 survey responses, 228 (23.4%) respondents reported difficulties accessing fresh produce; 215 (22.1%) difficulty accessing fresh produce of high quality; and 233 (23.9%) issues with breadth of produce selection. By contrast, 184 (19.0%) respondents reported difficulty accessing low-fat products and 184 respondents (19.0%) reported issues with breadth of low-fat product selection. Severe difficulties in accessing both fresh produce and low-fat products were noted in Southwest and Eastern Virginia.
Overall, one-quarter of survey respondents reported challenges with accessing produce. While we did not assess changes because of COVID-19 specifically, efforts to support access to nutritious options is a critical component of promoting food security and community food security. These results can inform and tailor coordinated programs that include nutrition education programs and policy, systems, and environmental change initiatives. Follow-up research is warranted to determine ongoing challenges with food access among adults and households with lower incomes.
USDA Virginia Cooperative Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education, Virginia Department of Social Services (SNAP)
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.