Meeting food vulnerability needs during COVID-19: applying a systems approach to evidence based policy and practice

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Politics

Abstract

Working with national governments across the UK - including Defra's Food Vulnerability Directorate, the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Food Standards Agency, this project will apply a systems approach to enable understanding and monitoring of the array of activities to enhance or provide food access to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak, including both financial and direct access. Reflecting Defra's Food Vulnerability focus, target groups include people with low incomes, shielded individuals, and the 'non-shielded vulnerable'.

The aims of this project are to:
- Undertake comprehensive mapping of the food access systems, highlighting key areas of vulnerability within them and identifying links to other support systems.
- Using a case study approach, develop and apply methods for monitoring and evaluating the food access for vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 outbreak and through the easement of lockdown restrictions.
- Develop 'exit strategies' for managing the transition out of systems that will not be provided after the crisis.
- Establish 'best practice' protocols for resiliency planning for the future.

The project methods include collaborative systems mapping, local area case studies (collating qualitative and quantitative data) and in-depth interviews with system users and other key actors.

The project will provide policymakers with a comprehensive overview of food access activities for vulnerable groups and identification of key gaps and weaknesses within this system, informed by stakeholders who use these systems and those contributing to them. Civil society and business communities benefit by directly informing this work, but also from its evaluative and monitoring components, enabling them to identify and refine their efforts in the wider context.

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