The Coronavirus Files: The Health Divide, The Hunger Crisis & Reopening the Courts

Originally published on USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Covering the Childhood Hunger Crisis

As co-director of The Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center, a center for children suffering from malnutrition, pediatrician Megan Sandel usually hears about trouble securing food from 20% to 30% of the families she works with. Lately it’s been more like 60%, she said. Not only has the pandemic led to soaring unemployment, in some neighborhoods it’s left grocery stores understocked, posing challenges for parents trying to feed their children, especially those with special dietary needs.

Sandel partnered with Yale child psychiatrist Megan Smith, director of the Mental Health Outreach for Mothers Partnership, this week to tackle the pandemic’s impact on childhood hunger in a Center for Health Journalism webinar. The two discussed how a lack of basic nutrition and family stress impact children during critical development periods and how minority neighborhoods hit hardest by the virus are also some of the most at risk for food insecurity.

“It’s not by accident that low income kids of color, particularly black and… Latinx kids have the highest rates of food insecurity,” said Sandel, referring to structural inequities facing minority communities. Food insecurity in these and other neighborhoods is an issue that leads to “undermining the foundation of what is child and family health,” she said.

For more context, data and story ideas about the growing hunger crisis from our webinar, watch the webinar here.