Sunday, September 6, 2020
Jessica Guarino (University of Illinois), Brad Windings (University of Illinois), A. Bryan Endres (University of Illinois), Beyond Victory Gardens: Bolstering Resilience in Food Crisis Response, SSRN:
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted much of daily life, not the least of which was the nation’s food supply. Empty grocery store shelves, rotting produce in the fields, and gallons of milk dumped rather than sold manifested as symptoms of the fragile nature of the U.S. food system. Rectifying issues of resilience through the incorporation of local and regional food sources as supplementary to the existing channels of production and distribution may have prevented such a harsh shock to the system. This article identifies the weaknesses of the U.S.’s industrial and consolidated food supply chain that prioritizes extraction and economic gain over resiliency, and further describes the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these points of failure. The article first depicts some of the disruptions to the food supply chain stemming from consequences of the pandemic such as issues with matching supply to demand, wasting large quantities of food, and exacerbating systemic food insecurity. The article then provides a comprehensive overview of existing government crisis and disaster planning with an eye toward how these plans and policies incorporate or ignore implementing local and regional food into the greater food supply. The article concludes with recommendations for how to integrate local and regional food sources into government planning, identifying local and regional private entities such as food policy councils, farmers markets, and food banks as the most promising vehicles of change.