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Betacoronavirus, COVID-19, Child, Coronavirus Infections, District of Columbia, Employment, Family Characteristics, Florida, Food, Food Supply, Health Promotion, Humans, Income, Needs Assessment, Pandemics, Pneumonia, Viral, Poverty, SARS-CoV-2, Social Work, Surveys and Questionnaires, Texas



Objective: Brighter Bites is a school-based health promotion program that delivers fresh produce and nutrition education to low-income children and families. Due to COVID-19-related school closures, states were under "shelter in place" orders, and Brighter Bites administered a rapid assessment survey to identify social needs among their families. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the methodology used to identify those with greatest social needs during this time ("high risk"), and to describe the response of Brighter Bites to these "high risk" families.

Methods: The rapid assessment survey was collected in April 2020 across Houston, Dallas, Washington DC, and Southwest Florida. The survey consisted of items on disruption of employment status, financial hardship, food insecurity, perceived health status and sociodemographics. The open-ended question "Please share your greatest concern at this time, or any other thoughts you would like to share with us." was asked at the end of each survey to triage "high risk" families. Responses were then used to articulate a response to meet the needs of these high risk families.

Results: A total of 1048 families completed the COVID-19 rapid response survey, of which 71 families were triaged and classified as "high risk" (6.8% of survey respondents). During this time, 100% of the "high risk" participants reported being food insecure, 85% were concerned about their financial stability, 82% concerned about the availability of food, and 65% concerned about the affordability of food. A qualitative analysis of the high-risk group revealed four major themes: fear of contracting COVID19, disruption of employment status, financial hardship, and exacerbated food insecurity. In response, Brighter Bites pivoted, created, and deployed a framework to immediately address a variety of social needs among those in the "high risk" category. Administering a rapid response survey to identify the immediate needs of their families can help social service providers tailor their services to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

PLoS ONE, v. 15, issue 10, art. e0240009