Covid-19 crisis and food systems
With the spread of COVID-19 we find ourselves plunged into a global health crisis. By most accounts we are only at the early stages of the pandemic so it is going to reshape economy, society and politics, probably permanently.
Pre-COVID-19 crisis, many families the world over already spent a lot of time and energy thinking about getting access to food. During the crisis, the most vulnerable face the rapid loss of their income – spent mainly on food – and this is an immediate threat which should be prioritised. For many others, simple access to shops has also become very worrying and needs swift attention. Even the wealthy are increasingly thinking about food access at this time.
But are governments, businesses and civil society thinking enough about food access and the wider food system?
How will the crisis shape the food system if we do nothing? And what can we do in the context of the crisis to get the food system in better shape to improve the consumption of nutritious foods for all, especially the most vulnerable?
We desperately need to focus on the operation of food systems at the moment because we know that the quality and quantity of the food we eat is the number one risk factor in the prevention of general mortality and morbidity. If we forget the food system right now, the COVID-19 health crisis will unwittingly use the food system as a catapult to have an even bigger impact on the global burden of disease. If we think and act to change the food system right now we can reposition it to be more effective at delivering affordable nutritious food during the crisis, and perhaps even after the crisis.
What are the probable effects of COVID-19 (and the efforts to control it) on the food system which shapes our access to nutritious food?
It is difficult to say for sure, but in the table below we share some thoughts on the potential impacts throughout the food system of COVID-19 (and the response to it), and some ways of mitigating the impacts. We do this for high- and low-income contexts, which may well exist within the same countries. Many of our suggested actions are responses to immediate needs, but many would have positive impacts well after the crisis is under control…Read more…