Published: June 2022
Bibliographic reference: Marriott JP, Fiechtner L, Birk NW, Taitelbaum D, Odoms-Young A, Wilson NL, Clay LA, Zack RM. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Food Pantry Use and Barriers in Massachusetts during the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nutrients. 2022; 14(12):2531. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14122531
This study sought to describe racial disparities in food insecurity, food pantry use, and barriers to and experiences with food pantries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We surveyed 2928 adults in Massachusetts regarding food access in the year before and during the first year of the pandemic. Weighted multivariable logistic regression models assessed racial differences in barriers to and experiences with pantry use during the pandemic. Black and Latino adults experienced the highest prevalence of food insecurity and pantry use. Additionally, Black and Latino adults reported more barriers to, but less stigma around, pantry use compared to White adults. Latino adults were less likely to know about pantry hours/locations and encounter staff who spoke their language. Black and Latino adults were also more likely to find pantry hours/locations inconvenient and have difficulty with transportation. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased food insecurity, and food access inequities persisted. Programmatic policies to improve pantry access in communities of color could include increasing the hours/days that pantries are open, increasing bilingual staff, providing transportation or delivery, and creating multilingual public awareness campaigns on how to locate pantries.