Completed Research Projects

National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT) – New York

As part of the National Food Access and COVID Research Team (NFACT), this project seeks to understand food access during COVID-19. During COVID-19, the food environment – farmers growing food, food processing facilities, transportation networks, retail grocery stores and restaurants, and households putting food on the table – were all affected as states took various measures to slow the spread of the virus. Household behavior changed quickly as people stayed home more, especially during statewide shutdowns and work from home orders. Rapidly, the food environment adapted. Schools developed a wide range of models to send meals home to families for students. Restaurants began offering curbside pick up and delivery rather than table service. Grocery stores mobilized or expanded curbside pick up and delivery services. And while households were navigating the risks associated with COVID, many experienced economic impacts from lost jobs and other disruptions as well. This study looks at the experience of New Yorkers with accessing food, the impact of COVID-19 on their households, and strategies used to cope and adapt. New York is one of 15 states contributing to the national NFACT team.

To read about our study findings, check out our research briefs on the health effects of the pandemicracial disparities in food access, and racial disparities in healthcare security. We also have several research articles published on food access and health impactsemployment and essential workersfood seeking behaviors, and food assistance and purchasing behavior.

​Funder: Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Research Award Program, based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593)
Project Team: NY State Team: Lauren Clay (PI); Britta Heath (Dietetics MS Student, D’Youville)
NYC Team: Preety Gadhoke (PI), St. Johns University; Barrett Brenton, Binghamton University


RAPID: Understanding Evacuation, Sheltering, and Re-entry decisions ​&
​Weather Ready Research: Risk Messaging During Syndemics

This project seeks to understand how households made decisions about evacuating for Hurricane Laura amid COVID-19 risk and how local emergency managers made decisions about how to manage evacuation and shelters during the dual hazards of a hurricane and a pandemic. Through interviews with individuals living in the path of Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and Texas and the emergency managers and public health officials working to respond to the event in the area, we will learn about how decisions were made, the considerations for decisions about when to evacuate areas, where to evacuate people to, how to safely shelter given the risk of COVID-19 spread, and how to communicate the risks and recommended or required actions in a complex situation. We will also learn about how it went given the decision that were made during Hurricane Laura and key lessons learned for future dual hazard situations.

Through a supplemental grant, the project team and other grantees participated in workshops with the American Association for the Advancement of Science on public engagement and added a set of interviews with chief information officers and other professionals working on communication with the public during the pandemic. The information learned from these interviews will teach us about how to better communicate with different audiences when there are multiple hazards to navigate such as a hurricane during a pandemic.

Learn about study findings: Risk Messaging During Syndemics Report.

Funder: National Science Foundation, Award # 2051578 & Quick Response Research Award Supported by the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder with the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Program Office.
Project Team: Lauren Clay, UMBC; Alex Greer, SUNY Albany; Haley Murphy, Oklahoma State University; Tristan Wu, University of North Texas


COVID-19 and Food Security Working Group

This Working Group was established to align measures across COVID-19 studies, partner on analyses, and disseminate recommendations for food environment assessment post-disruption. Check out the Research Agenda Setting Paper and Instrument Repository from the working group.

Funder: National Science Foundation-funded Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) network and the CONVERGE facility at the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder (NSF Award #1841338)
Team: PI: Clay; Co-PI: Colon-Ramos, Hossan, Josephson, Marks, Belarmino, Neff, Niles, Slotter


Early Career Research Fellowship: The Post-Disaster Food Environment

This study explored the impact of Hurricane Florence (2018) on the local food environment in Eastern North Carolina, from farmers growing food, to families putting food on the table. This is the first study to describe what the emergency food assistance landscape looks like for families coping with disasters and the challenges they face. Through interviews with individuals affected by the storm, emergency food response workers, grocery store workers, and farmers, this study describes the impacts and challenges faced across the system. Data analysis is ongoing, but we’ve learned a lot already.

To learn about the research results so far, check out this field reportnews article on the studynews article on food insecurity after Florence, and this article about food availability after the storm.

Funder: National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Gulf Research Program
PI: Lauren Clay, UMBC; Rachel Slotter, University of Delaware


SCALE-UP East Boston: Developing a practical model for a climate-resilient community in East Boston to enhance residents’ preparedness 

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Resilience Grant
Research Team: Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) (Lead); David Abramson (NYU PI), NYU; Alexis Merdjanoff, NYU; Lauren Clay (consultant), UMBC
Project Description: In order to understand whether improved social cohesion can make vulnerable communities more resilient to climate risk, SCALE-UP East Boston has designed four activities that will assess, analyze, and cultivate leadership and organizational resilience. The four elements include: (1) a residential survey; (2) an organizational network mapping initiative; (3) a planning assembly; and (4) leadership development.