Disease and disaster: Navigating food insecurity in a community affected by crises during COVID-19
Keywords:COVID-19, Crisis, Food Insecurity, Food Systems, Mental Health, Pandemic, Resiliency, Tornado, Natural Disasters
This exploratory study examines how a community experiencing food insecurity while navigating multiple crises can be a model to inform resources, processes, and systems supporting communities facing similar circumstances. Data for this study were collected from residents of a community in Oconee County, a rural county in the northwest corner of South Carolina experiencing pervasive food insecurity. The community was severely impacted by the onset of COVID-19 and further devastated by a tornado in mid-April. The area of the county that sustained the greatest damage from the tornado was the Utica Mill Hill community, home to the county’s most vulnerable population. This cascading series of events constituted a crisis-within-a-crisis for the community. In this study, we sought to learn more about community members’ experiences and the effects of the crises on community members’ access to food. We conducted in-depth interviews with 14 residents living in the Utica Mill Hill community. The results provided insight into community members’ experiences of the crises and the nature of community-level response and recovery efforts. We learned about participants’ experiences with food insecurity, new food policy developments, and gained unexpected insight into community members’ experiences with mental health challenges related to the crises.
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