Food insecurity among households with children during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a study among social media users across the United States

Niyati Parekh, Shahmir H. Ali, Joyce O’Connor, Yesim Tozan, Abbey M. Jones, Ariadna Capasso, Joshua Foreman, Ralph J. DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the United States, approximately 11% of households were food insecure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The present study aims to describe the prevalence of food insecurity among adults and households with children living in the United States during the pandemic. Methods: This study utilized social media as a recruitment platform to administer an original online survey on demographics and COVID-related food insecurity. The survey was disseminated through an advertisement campaign on Facebook and affiliated platforms. Food insecurity was assessed with a validated six-item United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Household Food Security Survey Module, which was used to create a six-point numerical food security score, where a higher score indicates lower food security. Individual-level participant demographic information was also collected. Logistic regressions (low/very-low compared with high/marginal food security) were performed to generate adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95%CIs for food insecurity and select demographic characteristics. Results: Advertisements reached 250,701 individuals and resulted in 5,606 complete surveys. Overall, 14.7% of participants self-identified as having low or very low food security in their households, with higher prevalence (17.5%) among households with children. Unemployment (AOR:1.76, 95%CI:1.09–2.80), high school or lower education (AOR:2.25, 95%CI:1.29–3.90), and low income (AOR[$30,000-$50,000]:5.87, 95%CI:3.35–10.37; AOR[< $30,000]:10.61, 95%CI:5.50–20.80) were associated with higher odds of food insecurity in multivariable models among households with children (and the whole sample). Conclusions: These data indicate exacerbation of food insecurity during the pandemic. The study will be instrumental in guiding additional research and time-sensitive interventions targeted towards vulnerable food insecure subgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number73
JournalNutrition Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Food insecurity
  • Households with children
  • Social media
  • Food Supply
  • Pandemics
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Social Media
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States/epidemiology
  • Food Insecurity
  • Adult
  • Child

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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