RAPID: Using Mobile Phone Data to Understand the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Assistance Use in Alaska

Project: Research project

Project Details


The COVID-19 pandemic has strained national and international transportation systems, affecting the cost and availability of food and other essentials. The pandemic has also exacerbated economic inequalities, disproportionately affecting vulnerable and low-income communities. In Alaska, most households rely on costly imported foods, and many, especially those with children, are experiencing food insecurity and undernutrition. This project investigates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on household use of food assistance in urban Alaska over the past three years. Through an innovative methodology using mobility data and spatial analysis, the PI team evaluates links between social and demographic variables and food pantry access, identifying food insecurity hotspots where need is greatest. This methodology may be applied elsewhere in the U.S. to identify and assist communities facing food insecurity. Working with local partners, research findings will be rapidly disseminated to stakeholders to inform food assistance programs. Research findings will also be used for university curriculum development and workshops. More broadly, assessment and response to food assistance needs during periods of crisis will improve the household security of vulnerable and low-income Americans.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date2/1/221/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $200,000.00


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