Alternative food distribution networks, resilience, and urban food security in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic




Alternative Food Networks, COVID-19, Pandemic, Turkey, Food Security, Resilience


This article explores the potential of alternative food networks (AFNs) for food security and resili­ence as COVID-19 has raised challenges to the global food supply chain. Pandemic-induced dis­ruptions to conventional food production, distri­bution, and consumption networks have revealed problems with the global food system and have drawn attention to the re-localization and regional­ization of food systems. Lockdown and mobility restrictions have also disrupted the availability, quality, and stability of food. We evaluate how AFNs have responded to these challenges in a non-western context through a case-study ap­proach informed by participant observation and semistructured interviews. After examining the multiple factors that have been critical to the emergence and expansion of AFNs in Turkey since the mid-2000s, we argue that these food distribu­tion networks have aimed to address food security, environmental sustainability, and farmer liveli­hoods in complementary ways. We provide a time­line of state-led measures in response to COVID-19 in Turkey as we consider their impacts on food distribution systems and access in urban areas. We then compare two AFNs: a food community work­ing within a participatory guarantee system, and a consumer cooperative that connects producers and consumers in urban areas. Although the two AFNs faced initial challenges due to disruptions in deliv­ery services and lockdowns, they have been able to continue their services and address increasing de­mand. They also provided special solidarity pack­ages for those adversely affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. By building on the existing networks and relationships of trust between con­sumers and producers, and the capacity and will­ingness of producers to adapt to the new regulatory environment, the two AFNs have been able to continue their activities and start new initiatives.


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Author Biographies

Nurcan Atalan-Helicke, Skidmore College

Ph.D., Associate Professor

Bürge Abiral, John Hopkins University

Ph.D. Candidate, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Anthropology



How to Cite

Atalan-Helicke, N., & Abiral, B. (2021). Alternative food distribution networks, resilience, and urban food security in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(2), 89–104.