Discussion: How the coronavirus crisis is exacerbating food insecurities and global inequities

Discussion: How the coronavirus crisis is exacerbating food insecurities and global inequities


June 30, 2020 · 1:30 PM EDT

The World staff


Even as some countries start to reopen, the world is far from safe from the novel coronavirus pandemic that continues to rage. Two grim milestones have been reached, as the globe sees more than 10 million confirmed global infections and 500,000 deaths.

The United States remains the epicenter of the pandemic and cases are rising at an alarming pace in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas.

The pandemic has also exacerbated existing crises of food insecurity and health disparities. In the US, mass protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue to spotlight deep-seated inequities faced by communities of color — including access to affordable, nutritious food. Black Americans in particular have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Related discussion: How systemic racism intersects with the coronavirus pandemic

Globally, issues about potential disruptions in local food supply chains and prices have caused concern.

As part of our weekly discussion series on the global pandemic, The World’s Elana Gordon moderated a conversation exploring the global food supply and inequities, presented with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Drawing on new US Census and other data, this discussion will explore public policy and actions needed to preserve access to US federal nutritional assistance programs. The panelists also will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the global food supply and nutritional quality, especially in low and middle-income countries, as well as strategies to minimize food system disruptions and ensure food access and nutrition during and after the pandemic.


David Bennell, manager, food, land and water/member relations, World Business Council for Sustainable Development US Inc.

Sara Bleich, professor of public health policy, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Catherine Woteki, distinguished institute professor with the Biocomplexity Institute, University of Virginia; professor of food science and human nutrition, Iowa State University; and former undersecretary for the US Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area.

Reuters contributed reporting.

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