Health Literacy and Food Literacy for K-12 Schools in the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Sch Health. 2021 Aug;91(8):650-659. doi: 10.1111/josh.13055. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


Background: Food literacy, a sub-area of health literacy, is achieving attention in schools, academia, research, health care, businesses, and governments worldwide. Against the current COVID-19 pandemic backdrop, the relevance of food literacy's interconnected attributes such as nutritional knowledge, food skills, and food environment is gaining traction. Enhancing health and food literacy in the K-12 school environment are important empowerment tools with the potential to reduce health inequalities as vulnerable people are at risk of limited health literacy.

Methods: We aim to clarify the meaning of food literacy and its relationship to health literacy and other factors influencing eating behavior.

Results: We offer a proposed conceptual model depicting connections between relevant theories and constructs in the field of health and nutrition. Concrete actions are offered that contemporary schools can take guided by the utility of the model.

Conclusions: This visual can help guide schools' multidimensional health and food literacy efforts while considering the realities of the current COVID-19 pandemic context and beyond. This model will provide an overarching reference for schools to consider key constructs to support practice, research, policy, and intervention efforts to advance their health and food literacy agendas.

Keywords: health literacy; nutrition and diet; organization and administration of school health programs; public health; school health instruction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Child
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Food*
  • Health Belief Model*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schools*
  • Social Class