SFSI Affiliates Discuss Food Security in the Time of COVID-19

Cindy Leung and Susan Aaronson, two SFSI affiliates, were interviewed back in May, 2020, on the impacts of the pandemic on food insecurity. Aaronson and Leung, in the School of Public Health, detail how these measures bring difficult new challenges for each of us, especially for vulnerable populations like the elderly, those with chronic illness and mental health issues, and those without the means to work from home or access affordable healthcare. They also start to explore sources of hope and programs to combat these potentially life-threatening impacts.

Even as the vaccine makes its way to the public, this issue is still paramount. This interview probes us to think about what will the longterm effects of this shock to our food system be? Who is bearing the brunt of this food insecurity? What can we do now to transform our food system to be more healthy, equitable, sustainable, and economically viable for all? Additional food assistance remains precarious as pandemic EBT was only extended through December in the state of Michigan and food pantries are struggling to meet the needs of the community. You can see the state of food insecurity, including an interactive map broken down by counties across the US, at this Feeding America site here.

Listen to the episode here and read the affiliate bios below.


Lecturer III, Nutritional Sciences; Didactic Program Director, Nutritional Sciences

Susan Aaronson, MA, RD is the Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and a lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Ms. Aaronson has 30 years of experience as a Registered Dietitian in the area of clinical and acute care, as well as extensive experience in community and non-profit public health nutrition. She serves on the board of Food Gatherers and Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and has an interest in food insecurity.
Learn more.


Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Dr. Leung is a nutrition epidemiologist whose research focuses on diet and health disparities in vulnerable populations. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, her research focuses on three primary areas: 1) understanding stress as a novel mechanism underlying food insecurity and children’s risk of obesity, 2) evaluating the impact of participating in federal food programs on dietary behaviors and chronic disease risk, and 3) assessing stakeholder-supported strategies for improving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn more.