Food Is Different During the Pandemic

COVID-19 Effects on Food Security in the Developed World as Exemplified by United States and Canada




food system, food supply chain, food security, food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition, COVID19, SARS Cov-2 pandemic, food assistance, food stamps, food banks, charities


The COVID-19 pandemic has left no area of human life unaffected and the food system in its global, regional, or micro manifestations is not an exception. The images of empty store shelves caused by lockdowns stirred a lot of anxiety among consumers in the so-called First World. At the same time, thousands of miles away, in the developing and underdeveloped countries, where having a meal is never taken for granted, people suffered the harshest consequences of any pandemic-related instability in the food system. Both these realities deserve intellectual reflection, with the former being far more intricate than its media portrayals and therefore will be explored further in this work. This paper aims to study the COVID-19 impact on food systems in developed countries such as the United States and Canada, as well as the challenges to the food security they face during the pandemic. It offers a top-down approach, starting with the definition of food security, and highlighting some crucial aspects of food access and food availability, which has been compromised by the spread of coronavirus in the two countries. Detailed analysis of responses to the pandemic-related food security problems in both countries will be offered as well. The right to food is presented here as a human right, and the links between that right and the concept of food security are brought out. The pandemic wreaked havoc on food security in many parts of the world, including the affluent, but at the same time revealed its fragility and the need for continuous monitoring, re-assessment, and improvement through more effective food programs. The emerging sliver of hope for a more just postpandemic food system should not be ignored.

Author Biography

Anna Jastrzębiec-Witowska, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Received her PhD in humanities/sociology from Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland in 2010. She also received an MA in European Studies in 1999 from the University of Exeter in England and an MA in sociology in 1998, also from Jagiellonian. In her academic work, she has specialized in rural sociology and sustainable food systems, with an emphasis on the civic aspects of alternative agriculture and the building of sustainable communities and food economies. Her professional experience includes working with international NGOs and the local government in Dąbrowa Tarnowska in Małopolska Province, Poland.


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How to Cite

Jastrzębiec-Witowska, A. “Food Is Different During the Pandemic: COVID-19 Effects on Food Security in the Developed World As Exemplified by United States and Canada”. Ad Americam, vol. 23, June 2022, pp. 29-52, doi:10.12797/AdAmericam.23.2022.23.02.