Measures to Mitigate the Effects of the Pandemic on Food Insecurity
- What is food insecurity (FI)? Food insecurity is inadequate or uncertain access to healthy food to support a healthy and active life. It is mainly associated with a lack of financial resources.
- Has the pandemic exacerbated FI? Yes. At the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, a reported 26% of Québec adults were living in households experiencing FI. By the end of May 2020, this rate decreased to 15%. By comparison, this rate was 11% in 2015-16, based on a survey using a different methodology.
- Who is most affected? Households of four or more people, with children, or with members who have lost their jobs as well as people living alone and young adults have reported higher FI since the start of the pandemic.
- How does the COVID-19 pandemic influence FI? The prevention measures associatedwith the pandemic, as well as their consequences such as individual confinement, job loss, and disruption of food assistance services, may increase the prevalence and severity of FI. The pandemic has also caused shortages (8, 9) and an increase in the price of some foods, making them less accessible.
- How are FI and COVID related? People experiencing FI seem more likely to develop COVID and its complications due to their precarious living conditions and the fact that they more often suffer from chronic illnesses . Researchers expect that the pandemic’s impact on FI will persist after the prevention measures for the pandemic have been lifted. In the long term, impacts are to be expected on the morbidity and mortality of people experiencing FI, generating an avoidable health and economic burden.
Measures and means to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food insecurity
- What methodology was used to identify the mesures? A review of the grey and scientific literatures was conducted (see details in Appendix). The measures identified and their level of scientific support in the literature are presented in the table below (first column). The level of scientific support was assessed by taking into account the number and type of publications, as well as the consistency of results between them. The individual quality of the publications was not taken into account in assessing the level of support. It should also be noted that each of the measures was not subject to a specific literature review on its effectiveness.
- What methodology was used to identify the means? Several of publications from the literature searchincluded means associated with the measures. A selection was made among the means according to their relevance in the context of a pandemic (third column of the table). Data from the community (see details in Appendix) were also used to enrich the means. It should be noted that unlike the measures, the level of scientific support for the means was not evaluated in this analysis, contrary to what was done for the measures.