Food for people in place

Kelly Dombroski, Gradon Diprose, Emma Sharp, Rebekah Graham, Louise Lee, Matthew Scobie, Sophie Richardson, Alison Watkins, Rosemarie Martin-Nueninger

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response have brought food security into sharp focus for many New Zealanders. The requirement to “shelter in place” for eight weeks nationwide, with only “essential services” operating, affected all parts of the New Zealand food system. The nationwide full lockdown highlighted existing inequities and created new challenges to food access, availability, affordability, distribution, transportation, and waste management. While Aotearoa New Zealand is a food producer, there remains uncertainty surrounding the future of local food systems, particularly as the long-term effects of the pandemic emerge. In this article we draw on interviews with food rescue groups, urban farms, community organisations, supermarket management, and local and central government staff to highlight the diverse, rapid, community-based responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings reveal shifts at both the local scale, where existing relationships and short supply chains have been leveraged quickly, and national scale, where funding has been mobilised towards a different food strategy. We use these findings to re-imagine where and how responsibility might be taken up differently to enhance resilience and care in diverse food systems in New Zealand.