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Preparing for food security after COVID-19: Strengthening equity and resiliency in future emergency response in Toronto

Towards more resilient and equitable systems

woman with medical mask loading vegetables into van

In early March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a global health emergency that few governments were prepared to handle. Prior to the outbreak, food insecurity was already a serious public health problem impacting over 4 million Canadians, including 1 in 5 residents (18.5%) of the City of Toronto’s population. The severity of impacts of the emergency crises on vulnerable populations is dependent upon the resiliency of the food system, or the ability of a system to absorb or adapt to ‘shocks’ so that it can continue to function and provide services. This SSHRC-funded collaborative research project brings together scholars from Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security and the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Office.
It aims to enhance the existing capacity of the municipal government in assessing how vulnerable neighbourhoods and food security organizations responded to the initial and residual impacts of COVID-19, and bridge gaps in local and expert knowledge necessary for developing an emergency preparedness strategy for future food-system shocks that upholds the City of Toronto’s resilience and equity goals. This project will:

  1. Investigate the responses of communities and organizations, including those that emerged in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) to address heightened food insecurity during the outbreak and recovery in the City of Toronto
  2. Assess emergency response preparedness in food security practice in other cities to evaluate how equity and resiliency concerns are considered before, during and after the outbreak
  3. Broker local and expert knowledge on the impacts of the COVID-19 response on the resiliency and equity of Toronto’s food systems
  4. Inform and strengthen food-system practice and policy in future emergency response.


Sara Edge, Jenelle Regnier-Davies, Mustafa Koc, Joseph Nasr, The Poverty Reduction Strategy Office, City of Toronto


Project dates

January 2021 - December 2021