THURSDAY, July 22, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — Modifications in Individuals’ grocery shopping habits throughout the pandemic made pre-existing gaps in entry to meals even worse, researchers report.

Whereas many wealthier individuals switched to on-line ordering and did extra stocking up, most low-income individuals nonetheless needed to store in-person at native small grocers and greenback shops and achieve this commonly as a result of they could not afford to fill up on groceries.

That is the discovering of a research that examined 2020 information on in-person visitors at practically 400 grocery sellers within the Columbus, Ohio, space earlier than lockdown (Jan. 6 – March 15), throughout lockdown (March 16 – April 19) and through preliminary reopening (April 20 – Might 31).

Whereas mid- and high-end grocery shops and big-box meals retailers within the metropolis had vital drops in foot visitors throughout lockdown, greenback shops and smaller unbiased grocers — significantly in low-income neighborhoods and people serving many individuals of shade — had solely a small lower in buyer visits.

“Most low-income individuals nonetheless had to buy groceries in individual throughout the COVID lockdowns and will not have had the financial capacity to fill up on meals,” mentioned lead research writer Armita Kar, a doctoral pupil in geography at Ohio State College.

“They took fewer journeys to mid- and high-end grocery shops exterior their neighborhood and continued to go commonly to the shops that had been nearest to them, which had been the greenback shops and native grocers,” Kar mentioned in a college information launch.

The issues confronted by poor individuals throughout pandemic lockdowns aren’t new, based on research co-author Huyen Le, an assistant professor of geography at Ohio State.

“COVID-19 exacerbated the prevailing issues of unequal entry to meals for low-income individuals,” Le mentioned.

“The wealthy and poor had been principally procuring at totally different meals shops earlier than COVID-19, and people variations grew to become much more stark when the lockdown got here,” mentioned research co-author Harvey Miller, director of Ohio State’s Heart for City and Regional Evaluation.

The findings spotlight the necessity to present higher meals procuring choices for low-income individuals who reside in so-called meals deserts, based on Le.

“Greenback shops principally supply packaged and extremely processed meals that are not wholesome,” Le mentioned. “Policymakers ought to study methods to offer higher procuring choices for individuals in low-income areas, in order that they have higher entry to wholesome meals.”

The research can be printed within the September concern of the journal Utilized Geography.

Extra data

The U.S. Division of Agriculture presents suggestions for healthy eating on a budget.

SOURCE: Ohio State College, information launch, July 19, 2021