During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments, charities and local communities have been working to ensure access to food for the most vulnerable people in society. New schemes have been developed, such as government food parcels for people asked to shield and referrals for people to receive help with groceries from a volunteer. These have been working alongside existing provision for those unable to afford food – such as food banks – which has also seen a dramatic rise in demand during lockdown. The result is an increasingly complex set of support structures which are changing and developing as the COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts evolve.
A new research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19 grant call, will map and monitor responses to food vulnerability during the COVID-19 outbreak. Led by Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, SPERI Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield and Dr Rachel Loopstra, Lecturer in Nutrition at King’s College London, the research will involve working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders including from governments, charities and NGOs as well as people with lived experience of these support systems during COVID-19.
The project will last 18 months, running from July 2020 to January 2022 with the aim for collaborative, real time monitoring and analysis of food support systems to be able to inform food access policy and practice during the outbreak and as the socio-economic impacts become clearer.