The local as a site of food security resilience in the times of pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has already significantly impacted on the UK’s food system. This project, led by Dr Anna Krzywoszynska, looks a what can be learned from this, to bolster the food systems resilience.

Chegworth Valley sign above indoor food market with fruit and veg

In the UK, food provisioning is highly centralised and depends on just-in-time supply chains. During the first weeks of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown, supermarket shelves emptied as demand skyrocketed. Further disruptions are likely to emerge as a result of longer-term effects of lockdowns and associated economic effects as well as long-term change to food system operations. The shock of the pandemic illustrated the overall vulnerability of the UK’s food system.

This project looks at ways of bolstering the resilience of UK's food security now and in the future through cultivating functional diversity. In the case of the UK's food security, such functional diversity is provided by the local food system - by local food producers and direct sales organisations.

In the first stage, the project will work with a range of project partners within this sector to capture its contribution to UK's food security at this time, and to identify where help is needed to maximise its impact and to secure the livelihoods of local food actors. In the later stages, the team will work with the project partners to draw out lessons on how this contribution can be maintained to make UK's food systems more robust, especially in light of the upcoming Brexit-related food system disruptions. This project will help to enhance the resilience of the overall UK food system by supporting an under-resourced but crucial sector. By gathering and feeding in resilience-related data to the local food sector and policymakers, the project will help maximise the contribution of this sector to the UK’s overall food security.

This project is being delivered by Dr Anna Krzywoszynska, Stephen Jones, and Damian Maye (Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire).

Duration: 2020-2021

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