Food Access Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Time: 12:00 -1:00 pm ET
Speakers: Dr. Daiva Nielsen & Dr. Wallapak Polasub
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily life for citizens in most countries around the world. The speed at which citizens have had to react and adapt to government directives for physical distancing is unprecedented, producing a number of hardships in acquiring the essentials of life. Of particular importance to understand is the impact that the pandemic has had on access to food, which will have been affected for a variety of reasons; e.g. economic challenges resulting from job loss, agricultural impacts, self-isolation, or apprehension to shop in-store due to concerns about exposure to the SARS-CoV2 virus. This webinar will present findings from two projects that have evaluated consumer risk perceptions and food access impacts of the pandemic: 1) a Quebec provincial household survey investigation and 2) a Pan-Canadian survey study on consumer perceptions and experiences.
- Online methods to conduct studies during the pandemic: strengths and limitations.
- Regional considerations about food access during COVID-19.
- Consumer considerations: self-isolation, income loss, and risk perceptions.
- Commercial strategies to address food access needs and regional considerations.
- Building resilient regional food systems during a pandemic
About the Speakers
Daiva Nielsen, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Nutrition at McGill University. Her research program evaluates gene-environment interactions on nutrition and health outcomes, with a specific focus on the role of the retail food environment as an everyday environmental exposure. Her work in the food environment prompted her to investigate the challenges with food acquisition that could arise from the societal impacts of COVID-19. She received McGill Rapid Response COVID-19 funding to conduct an online Quebec household survey study to evaluate household food impacts of the pandemic, which was implemented during the period of strictest provincial closures. The survey is longitudinal in nature and will follow households over the course of the pandemic to evaluate adaptations to the situation and identify opportunities for commercial strategies that are informed by both characteristics of regional food environments and COVID-19 prevalence.
Wallapak Polasub, PhD is a senior research associate at the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her research interests are on economics of local food systems, farm direct marketing, community food security and consumer behaviors. As COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of global food supply chains, Dr. Polasub is currently studying how consumers are adapting, what barriers to food access remain, which citizens are most acutely affected, and consumer attitudes towards building resilient place-based food systems. She and her colleagues from the University of Alberta, Carleton University, McGill University, and Dalhousie University have conducted a Canada-wide survey to investigate these issues in order to help prepare for future events such as this. She hopes that the results of these surveys may further discussions on how our local/regional food systems can be configured sustainably to provide healthy food for all.