By March 31, 2020 Read More →

Coronavirus Update: Food issues can be greater for poor, more rural West Virginia residents

WV Press Report with WVU Today updates

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While West Virginia residents are allowed out to buy food during West Virginia’s Stay-at-Home” order, issued March 24, that doesn’t mean they have access to healthy food choices or enough food within a close trip or their county.

As intended, Gov. Jim Justice’s order is keeping many residents closer to home. Unfortunately, for many living in rural Appalachian communities, the COVID-19 pandemic can have an even greater impact on food security, according to Lauri Andress, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University.

Terms such as ‘food deserts’ (areas where West Virginians are living significant distances from supermarkets and reliable food sources) and ‘food security’ (having reliable and affordable access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food) aren’t familiar to many West Virginia residents, but experts at WVU can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics, including ‘food deserts’ and ‘food security’

“We know COVID-19 will disproportionately affect those living in poverty … whether there is access to reliable transportation and a regular income,” Andress said.

“For those with a vehicle and a stable income, they may simply drive … and secure nutritious, affordable food. On the other hand, for those who rely on others for transportation and experience low or no employment, accessing affordable, nutritious food becomes even harder, especially as the policy guidance during this pandemic is to close most businesses, shelter at home, and practice social distancing. As work becomes even scarcer and transportation less reliable, a community can become a less likely place of refuge and more like a place one may not escape. COVID-19 and related regulations have a greater chance of negatively impacting those living in poverty …,” Andress said.

Because of the travel distance for food and the Stay-at-Home” order, many West Virginians are stocking up on food.

Athough food recommendations have not changed due to COVID-19, there are a few important items to remember when storing food after a trip to the grocery store.

— Always wash your vegetables and fruit before you eat them. The USDA recommends washing vegetables under running water.

— Food temperatures are important. It’s necessary to stay out of the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to keep cold foods below 40 degrees and hot foods above 140 degrees. Foods left in the danger zone for two or more hours should be discarded.

To help us understand more about ways to keep food safe, West Virginia University Extension Service Families and Health experts Andi Hoover and Hannah Fincham have provided some tips and steps to help us stay safe. 

“Cooked foods that are put into the refrigerator should be labeled with a ‘use by’ date, as we often forget when a dish was made. The ‘use by’ date should be no longer than seven days. After seven days, even refrigerated food can start growing bacteria. Leftovers should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees,” said Hannah Fincham, assistant professor and Randolph County Families and Health agent, WVU Extension Service

Andi Hoover, associate professor and Greenbrier County Families and Health agent, WVU Extension Service, said, “We often over stock our canned foods in our kitchen cabinets. To ensure food safety and no food waste, we want to use the ‘First In, First Out’. When you come home from the grocery store with a couple of cans of food, pull out your older cans that you may still have. Put your new cans in and your older cans in front of those so you will use those first.”  

For more information, visit Experts Database at WVU Today.

Related Stories

Posted in: Government, Latest News

Comments are closed.