Adaptations and innovations
Analyzing food system organizations' responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:COVID-19, Pandemic, Corporate Food Regime, Organizations and Businesses, Charlotte, North Carolina
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, food systems have been affected by supply-chain disruptions, shifting employment trends, and increasing prices that change organization and business operations, increase food insecurity, and influence the broader economy. Much of the early scholarship regarding pandemic trends pointed to root causes in the corporate food regime and called for seeing the crisis as an opportunity for transformational change. Relying on surveys and in-depth interviews with food system stakeholders, this paper describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food businesses and organizations in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. We examined the challenges created during the pandemic and related responses by stakeholders. Our research found that the pandemic’s impacts have been mixed. Most stakeholders identified both barriers and opportunities, reporting great upheaval and disruption but also new opportunities for innovation and collaboration. We argue that, while many positive innovations and quick responses were generated, ongoing challenges are indicative of widespread food system vulnerabilities created by a corporate food regime that produces thin margins while limiting the ability of stakeholders to pursue transformational change. Much of the existing literature considers the pandemic’s effects on individual producers and eaters, as well as large-scale structural shifts, yet less attention has been paid to the responses of food system organizations and businesses. This research contributes to food systems literature through its focus on food system actors to better understand how the food system is changing during the pandemic.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Colleen Hammelman, Dylan Turner
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