Journal Articles

Publication Date



Preventing Chronic Disease


INTRODUCTION: US school systems underwent major upheaval, including closures, implementation of virtual and/or hybrid learning, and stringent infection mitigation protocols, during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to examine the association between food insecurity and perceived health, perceived stress, and social determinants of health concerns among elementary schoolteachers serving predominantly low-income children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: Brighter Bites, a nonprofit organization that weekly distributes fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education materials to more than 300 schools serving racial and ethnic minority populations with low income, conducts annual surveys of participating teachers to help determine subsequent efforts to support schools and families during the school year. We analyzed self-reported data collected electronically by the Brighter Bites teachers survey in 76 elementary schools during summer 2020. We used generalized linear mixed models to measure the association between food insecurity and health-related concerns.

RESULTS: Of 862 teachers who responded to the survey, 685 answered the 2 questions about food insecurity status; of these, 199 (29.1%) reported experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity was positively associated with poor perceived general health, greater perceived stress, concerns about various social determinants of health, and changes in fruit and vegetable consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrated the high prevalence of food insecurity and highlights its associated factors among elementary schoolteachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It calls attention to the high correlation of various concerns among elementary schoolteachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further intervention and policy efforts are needed to relieve food insecurity-related concerns and enhance well-being among teachers.


COVID-19, Child, Ethnicity, Food Insecurity, Food Supply, Humans, Minority Groups, Pandemics, Vegetables



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