More in NC go hungry in the pandemic, NCCU finds

Nearly 80% of North Carolinians are at least considering sharing a meal with someone outside their household on Thanksgiving or winter holiday, and nearly 18% reported having too little food on at least one day in the previous week, according to preliminary results from an online survey conducted
Nov. 17-22.

N.C. Central University researchers sponsored the survey on COVID-19 and its effects on households. Researchers found increased food insecurity and lower household incomes.

“This suggests food insecurity is higher than it has been,” Christopher Paul, NCCU assistant professor of public administration and principal investigator on the food insecurity research project, said in an interview. “In this initial analysis, it’s at some of its highest levels in recent history.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents to NCCU’s survey reported losing income, and 38% said that if they got sick, it was unlikely they could count on neighbors to shop for them.

It’s not known whether the 77.4% who said they were at least considering dining with people outside the household over the holidays planned to do so indoors or outdoors, Paul said. Nearly 40% answered “yes” to the question.

“We don’t know a lot about how people are gathering,” Paul said. “A major factor is there is a confusion about what is safe, and there’s still a great desire to gather.”

The survey helps expose the COVID-19 pandemic’s broad impact, he said.

“We see how our food and well-being intersect. It shows these vast impacts on our wellbeing as individuals and as a society. There are things we can do as a society, checking in on neighbors, through government and nongovernment organizations, to make sure we maintain people’s access to food and social supports.”

The 1,345 respondents were part of an internet survey panel and include residents in 97 counties. NCCU’s full report is expected in mid-December.

The US Department of Agriculture reported 13.1% of North Carolina households from 2017-2019 did not have enough food, relied on food banks or food stamps, or used other strategies to eat.

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