St. John’s Launches Survey to Assess Pandemic Impacts on Food Access and Health

Dr. Gadhoke Headshot
April 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit New York harder than any other city in the world, and the overall impact this crisis is having on the state’s health-care system and economy is abundantly clear.

Preety Gadhoke, Ph.D., M.P.H., St. John’s University Associate Professor of Public Health, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, on the Queens, NY, campus, wants to explore the specific challenges that those living in the greater New York metropolitan area face daily as they strive to meet basic needs.

St. John’s University has launched an online survey to identify the stresses individuals are experiencing as a result of the outbreak, with the goal of developing immediate and future solutions to improve access to food and health care. It is an adaptation of a validated survey the University of Vermont and Johns Hopkins University recently developed to assess the impact of COVID-19 on food systems. As the principal investigator, Dr. Gadhoke is leading the study in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan region, in collaboration with both higher education institutions.

“We want to understand how people respond to the crisis, learn what the impacts are, and identify steps we can take to address their challenges,” said Dr. Gadhoke. “According to City Harvest, even before COVID-19, 40 percent of New York City households lacked the income to cover basic necessities, including food, shelter, and transportation.”

The University-sponsored study is being conducted in partnership with St. John’s Vincentian Institute for Social Action (VISA). New Yorkers and others in the tristate area are asked to share their experiences in response to the coronavirus outbreak in relation to food access and purchasing, food security, health-care access, transportation, employment, and overall well-being. The survey consists of 41 questions and includes a short US Department of Agriculture food security scale.

“For the survey, we are targeting the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, and Rockland County,” Dr. Gadhoke said. “We also include Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey, and, finally, in Connecticut, we target Fairfield County.”

Researchers hope that a large swath of the public participates in the study and that it will inspire more academic scholars from around the country to administer their own version of the original survey to build a national picture of the impact of COVID-19.

People living in the New York metro area are encouraged to access the survey at Coronavirus Impacts on Food and Health Survey, or through Facebook. Participants must be at least 18 years of age.

The 15-minute survey is anonymous and mobile-friendly. Additionally, participants are asked to enter their email address for an opportunity to win a $50 grocery store gift card.

Questions about the survey can be directed to Dr. Gadhoke at [email protected].

Members of the St. John’s community, including students, faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni, are encouraged to take the survey. Students are welcome to assist with data analysis, publications, and advocacy, according to Dr. Gadhoke.

VISA invited 45 community service sites to disseminate the survey to their staff, administrators, their own partners, and communities. City Harvest has also joined as a community partner. Dr. Gadhoke anticipates greater participation by community organizations throughout the New York City area.

“COVID-19 has revealed social and health disparities, making the urgency of this study all the more pressing,” Dr. Gadhoke said. Study results will be disseminated for immediate action to community partners, policymakers, and the broader public.