This piece looks at how COVID-19 has impacted the food system in the U.K., exacerbating existing challenges and creating new ones in the way that people produce, sell, purchase and consume food. In particular, it explores both the challenges and responses that have arisen as a result of increased need for food assistance, and how public and private sectors have the opportunity to work together to create a more equitable food system.
In looking ahead to a recovery phase, it is possible to reflect on the innovations, partnerships and alliances that have evolved in response to the pandemic. They demonstrate that establishing new connections between a more diverse set of actors has the potential to enable more resilient food systems. At the same time, without measures to address structural inequity, the nutritional health of low-income and vulnerable populations will continue to be disproportionally affected.
Key themes addressed in this paper include:
- Socioeconomic changes or exacerbations due to COVID-19
- Inequality as an important root and driver of food and nutrition insecurity
- Subsystems of public-private food redistribution initiatives that help people access food, including new food banking relationships and schemes that directly link consumers to farms and growers
- The urgent need for routine nutrition data collection and measures of food and nutrition security to be integrated into national household surveys
- Opportunities for public private collaborations, and reflections and considerations for the future resilience of the U.K.’s food system