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How does a Pandemic impact our relationship with food? A new Penn survey seeks insights

By: Hannah Kleckner Hall Date: Apr 21, 2020
Food and COVID-19, a Penn Vet Study

A newly launched internet survey led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looks to explore the multidimensional impact that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on our collective relationship with food.

Comprised of faculty from Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), and School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), the research team is setting out to better understand the role of food in household dynamics before and during the pandemic, as well as how the current COVID-19 environment could impact our viewpoints of food in the future.

Dr. Zhengxia Dou, New Bolton Center“Food plays a multifaceted role in our lives; it sustains us, it comforts us, and it brings us together,” said Dr. Zhengxia Dou, professor of agricultural systems within the Center for Animal Health and Productivity (CAHP) at Penn Vet. “Our hope is to learn more about how the pandemic environment has altered how we view its respective meanings while also objectively assessing the current state of our food systems.”

Our relationship to foodParticipants are asked to consider how the pandemic environment has impacted their household’s grocery shopping, in-home cooking, and family eating together routines.

By examining household habits in frequency of food trips, availability of food and other essential products at the store, as well as changes in purchasing habits and use of food, the team looks to better understand the broader, systemic effects that the pandemic has had on our food systems – identifying both areas of resiliency and improvement.

“Ultimately, we hope to use this data to design and implement more insightful response plans for the future,” said Dou.  

All participant responses are confidential, and anyone over the age of 18 is able to partake in the survey. In total, the survey takes roughly 10 minutes to complete.

To complete an anonymous response, please visit

Investigators on this study include Penn Vet’s Dr. Zhengxia Dou, Dr. Dave Galligan, Dr. Darko Stefanovski, Dr. Ting Chen, and Margy Lindem; Dr. Ariana Chao, School of Nursing; and Dr. Paul Rozin, School of Arts and Sciences.


About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 34,600 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 6,200 patient visits a year, while our Field Services have gone out on more than 5,500 farm service calls, treating some 18,700 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.