Policy implications of the covid-19 pandemic on food insecurity in rural america: Evidence from appalachia

Kathryn M. Cardarelli, Emily Dewitt, Rachel Gillespie, Rachel H. Graham, Heather Norman-Burgdolf, Janet T. Mullins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rural communities are disproportionally affected by food insecurity, making them vulnerable to the consequences of supply disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While access to food was initially diminished due to food supply disruptions, little is known about the mechanisms through which federal emergency assistance programs impacted food access in rural populations. Through a series of five focus groups in spring 2021, we examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food access in a rural Appalachian community in Kentucky. Data were analyzed using a Grounded Theory Approach. Findings revealed the following four primary themes: food scarcity in grocery stores; expanded federal food assistance; expanded community food resources; and expanded home gardening. Participants provided details regarding the way increased federal assistance, especially expanded benefits within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, allowed them to purchase greater quantities of nutritious food. This study unveils the specific impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on one rural population, including the influence of some social determinants of health on food insecurity. Policymakers and stakeholders should recognize the layered protection of multiple federal emergency assistance programs against food insecurity and the potential for long-term population health promotion in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12792
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • COVID-19
  • Food access
  • Food insecurity
  • Rural
  • Social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Policy implications of the covid-19 pandemic on food insecurity in rural america: Evidence from appalachia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this