The University of Arizona

Regional Food System Resilience in Southern Arizona - Learning from COVID-19 | CLIMAS

Regional Food System Resilience in Southern Arizona - Learning from COVID-19

Regional Food System Resilience in Southern Arizona - Learning from COVID-19

CLIMAS Lead:  

COVID-19 and its associated risks and quarantine policies have brought rapid change to people’s lives in all kinds of ways. One thing that has not changed is people’s need for food; but the ways that people access and prepare their food, and provide food for others, has shifted greatly. Understanding the types of changes and adaptations that people are making – in the midst of a crisis – will provide lessons about building resilient and more just food systems that can respond to future health, environmental, and climate risks.

The 2020 pandemic has uncovered more evidence of several long-standing injustices and inequities that are embedded U.S. political, economic, and healthcare systems. Inequities tied to race, gender, and income have been magnified in food systems, including inequities in food access, food policy, food production and distribution, and food sovereignty. While many people face food insecurity, a large percentage of food system is wasted in landfills, which emits a significant amount of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

An initial scoping survey was distributed in May 2020 about how people's experiences with food access, preparation, and provision has been impacted by COVID-19 and their strategies to adjust to or cope with these impacts. Findings highlight the need for flexibility in operations and policies, for support to protect essential workers, and new strategies for food distribution, processing, and sales. This preliminary data is informing the next phase of research, which focuses on innovations and strategies in food production, processing, distribution, and waste management, as well as current inequities and injustices in the Tucson and Southern Arizona food system.