ROCHESTER, Minn. - Food insecurity across the nation has risen significantly since the pandemic started. There are food assistance programs for senior citizens, but younger adults, specifically ages 18 to 26, are being affected more than you might realize.
In a study conducted by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health at the beginning of the pandemic, researchers found that 12% of young adults were experiencing hunger or said they were eating less than they should. Once the study was completed in October, that number grew. The research associate, Nicole Larson, said while food assistance programs are out there, the eligibility for young adults doesn't match the need. "It's more challenging for young people at this age to gain access to food assistance benefits, but yet they have really important nutritional needs during this time in their life as well," explained Larson.
Larson said part of this increase in food insecurity in young adults is due to lack of money as well. "It's important that within colleges and universities, we're paying attention to making sure that younger people have adequate food and then making community assistance programs, such as food pantries or food distribution sites widely known to the young people at this age," explained Larson.
Moving forward, Larson hopes to see healthcare providers working to expand food assistance benefits for younger adults and making the resources that are available, better known to them. This study also suggests there needs to be more research done on how experiences of discrimination and racism influence shopping habits and the ability of young people to have healthy food.