Social Service Providers’ Perceptions of Older Adults’ Food Access During COVID-19

Ashley L. Munger, Katherine E. Speirs, Stephanie K. Grutzmacher, Mark Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated risk factors for food insecurity among older adults, while also altering how government agencies and social service organizations could serve this population given their disproportionate vulnerability to the virus. The current study sought to understand social service providers’ perspectives about how low-income community-dwelling older adults’ access to food and related resources changed during the COVID pandemic. Data were collected via in-depth interviews with 22 social service providers from Oregon-based public and private social service agencies. Responses indicated that changes to older adults’ food access during the pandemic stemmed from increases in public benefit amounts and social distancing guidelines. Participants indicated that temporary increases in SNAP allotments supported older adults’ food security. Additionally, social distancing guidelines disrupted usual ways of procuring food, such as going to grocery stores, obtaining food with the assistance of family or neighbors, receiving deliveries from social programs, and visiting congregate meal sites. Food assistance programs changed their operations to reduce in-person interaction and increase the use of technology. When investigating older adults' food access, future research should consider adults’ experiences of and barriers to SNAP receipt, social support from social networks and safety net programs, and technology access and knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Aging and Social Policy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • COVID-19 Pandemic
  • food insecurity
  • Meals on Wheels
  • older adults
  • policy
  • safety net
  • SNAP
  • social services
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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