The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis, with significant effects on the economy and communities, especially those facing economic, housing, and food insecurity. At Healthy Eating Research, we are working to track and provide research on the implications of the pandemic on food environments and systems that impact healthy eating opportunities for children and families in the U.S., as well as potential policy solutions.

Here’s a list of our new resources and findings to date:

Feeding Children During the Pandemic: Media Briefing

We recently hosted a media briefing to explore how best to feed children during the pandemic. The briefing featured leading experts, and addressed how upcoming federal legislation should support nutrition assistance programs to help ensure families have enough to eat, whether current funding levels for SNAP and school meal programs are sufficient to meet growing demand, how families with young children should shop for healthy items, and what caregivers can do if they are unable to purchase essential items such as infant formula. Listen to a recording of that briefing here:

Increasing SNAP Benefits to Stabilize the Economy, Reduce Poverty and Food Insecurity

A new research brief finds that increasing SNAP benefits during the pandemic could help stabilize the economy, and reduce poverty and food insecurity. It also discusses SNAP provisions in the three congressional COVID-19 aid bills that have already been enacted. Learn more.

What Parents Need to Know about Infant Feeding during COVID-19

On our Healthy Drinks Healthy Kids website, we have posted a story with guidance for caregivers of young children and links to additional resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Learn more.

Food Banks Respond to Surge in Demand

Already a crisis before COVID-19, rising food insecurity has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As a result, food banks have become an essential resource to a growing number of families. “Food banks are always an essential part of the food system, but given the current strain on [families’] resources and the anticipated increase in demand as a result of rising unemployment rates, they might find it’s more difficult than ever to meet the need”, writes HER Deputy Director Megan Lott in a State of Childhood Obesity blog post. Learn more.

Strengthening WIC’s Impact During and After the COVID‑19 Pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment has risen and food insecurity has also increased, making WIC’s role more important than ever. This research brief focuses on how to strengthen WIC’s impact during and after COVID-19. Learn more.

For additional resources:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a webpage dedicated to resources and perspectives on COVID-19.

The State of Childhood Obesity website is housing new research from HER and RWJF on feeding children during the pandemic.

Voices for Healthy Kids is continuously updating a list of resources from various organizations, including health information and expert guidance; resources for parents, advocates, schools, and child care; and resources for media.

Food Research and Action Center has been developing and updating tools for policymakers and advocates focused on federal nutrition programs’ response to COVID-19.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has a webpage that details its response to COVID-19, with information about SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition program flexibilities, and where to find meals for kids while schools are closed.