Food system adaptations and resilience during the global pandemic: Lessons from Charlotte

Authors: Dylan Turner*, University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Colleen Hammelman, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Topics: Food Systems
Keywords: Food system resilience; collaborative solutions; Charlotte, NC; COVID-19
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Like many urban food systems, Charlotte has experienced growing and uneven rates of food insecurity, food business closures, and disrupted distribution chains as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. In response, organizations and businesses across this mid-sized metropolitan region in the US South have adapted, pivoted, and innovated in ways that promote future resilience. This multi-phased participatory research, conducted in partnership with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council and 80+ community stakeholders, examines the impacts from the pandemic on Charlotte's food system, and how the food system is adapting to become more resilient in the event of future disruptions. The findings demonstrate that more stakeholders are relying on cross-organization connections, recognizing that integrated, system-wide, and collaborative approaches are needed to mediate the pandemic’s impacts. Many are striving to address systemic inequities in order to foster a more just and equitable food system that can withstand future shocks. Additional innovations in distribution mechanisms, information sharing, and capacity building have been identified as strategies that will remain once the crisis has subsided. Finally, the importance of food systems to wide-ranging urban concerns (such as health, housing, and economic mobility) have become more visible during the pandemic. Thus, this research makes clear the ways that pandemic-induced pivots may impact urban food systems for decades to come.

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