Food service workers facing pandemic-related challenges, Tulane expert says

Food service workers facing pandemic-related challenges, Tulane expert says

October 29, 20212 min read

When COVID-19 brought the country to a virtual standstill in the spring of 2020, one group of workers soon became known as the pandemic’s unsung heroes.

“Food service workers and their families were among the hardest hit early in the pandemic and face ongoing challenges,” said Michael Hoerger, an associate professor of psychology, psychiatry and oncology at Tulane University. “The delta variant and Hurricane Ida compounded these challenges.”

In partnership with the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Hoerger and Tulane psychologist Courtney Baker are co-leading a project that aims to address pandemic-related issues among food service workers, including health and safety issues, stress and other long-term consequences.

The project, titled “Building Capacity to Support the Pandemic’s Unsung Heroes: Frontline Essential Food Service Workers is being funded with a $200,000 award from the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

“Many people working in food service positions have experienced an above average risk for contracting COVID-19,” Hoerger said. “They have also faced stress related to lost income from capacity limits, health-related concerns, and the enforcement of mitigation efforts.”

For the study, researchers are interested in talking to employees of grocery stores, restaurants and other food-related businesses as well as their families, business owners and other interested parties. Beginning in December 2021, they will conduct surveys, focus groups and interviews to gain a better understanding of the needs surrounding health and safety, stress and long-term consequences of the pandemic.

Additionally, researchers will hold a series of virtual town hall meetings and trainings to help study participants become more familiar with the project in terms of best practices, research skills and pandemic-related information.

Hoerger is available for media interviews at or 504-314-7545.

Connect with:
  • Dr. Michael Hoerger
    Dr. Michael Hoerger Assistant Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Oncology

    As a clinical health psychologist and decision scientist, Dr. Hoerger is Louisiana's leading expert in psycho-oncology research

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