The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in record-high unemployment rates. Black and Latino adults experienced disproportionately higher rates of unemployment. We aimed to examine associations between pandemic-related employment status change and household food insecurity among an economically diverse sample of Black and Latino adults in Illinois during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we evaluated the significance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation to determine if it modified associations. We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from 1809 Black and Latino adults in two waves: May 2020 and June/July 2020. Participants listed their change in employment status as “lost job entirely”, “employed, but paid hours reduced”, “employed, but anticipate job lost”, or “no change”. Participants self-reported their SNAP status and completed the USDA’s six item U.S. Food Security Module to report household food security status. We used logistic regression to assess the significance of associations after controlling for socio-demographics. Approximately 15.5% of participants lost their job entirely, 25.2% were SNAP participants, and 51.8% reported low food security (LFS). All changes in employment were significantly associated with increased odds of LFS after adjusting for socio-demographics. SNAP participants who lost their job had higher odds of LFS (OR: 4.69; 95% CI: 2.69–8.17) compared to non-participants who lost their job (OR: 2.97; 95% CI: 1.95–4.52). In summary, we observed strong associations between changes in employment and household food insecurity, particularly among SNAP participants, which underscores the pandemic’s impact on low-income and minority populations.
- food security