Virginia Tech® home

The Food System and COVID-19

Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Hope in Times of Crisis

April 6, 2020 by Kim Niewolny
Director, Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation

Access to trustworthy information is significant during a world health crisis. The Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation is working with our partners to provide current information and resources that are relevant for food systems change makers and stakeholders on and off campus. We are also prioritizing creating space for reflection on the current conditions in the food system to more deeply understand how this pandemic impacts our everyday lives now and into the future. Through careful reflection and learning, we hope to create new possibilities for the work that lies ahead. This will include a critical focus on uplifting the needs and concerns of those most vulnerable to disruptions in the system. In this effort, it will prove crucial that we listen to our frontline workers, organizers, students, and scholars whose practice, policy, and scholarship have judiciously crafted food movement possibilities in which emphasize justice and fairness as core values: agroecology, community food security, food justice, food sovereignty, and more.

Although our rhythms and practices feel disjointed and disrupted, I am reminded of the necessity of hope in generating new roots and new growth in times of despair (Lear, 2008). Drawing upon the work of Paulo Freire (1992) and bell hooks (2003), we have an immense opportunity before us, through compassionate and critical praxis, to help devise and enact a new social imaginary that moves us beyond the disaffection with the current food system. As noted by many, the material and bodily effects of our food system are maddening (Orlie, 2009). It is time for a more empathetic and humanizing system so that all flourish. I am hopeful that this moment of crisis enables us with new capacity and courage to bring about the life-affirming possibilities we seek. The extent of these possibilities go as far as our imaginations can take them.

Freire, P.  (1992). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.
hooks, bell, (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge.
Lear, J. (2008). Radical hope: Ethics in the face of cultural devastation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Orlie, M. (2009). There is no alternative. Theory & Event, 12(2), none.

Below you will find a compendium of position papers published from the Center, relevant news articles, and timely resources both internal and outside of the Virginia Tech system that address or relate to the impacts and possibilities COVID-19 has brought to the food system. As the pandemic progresses, we may update or add to these resources.

We invite you to join the conversation. What are your concerns, stories of reslience and adaptation, and resources that have helped you? Click the box below to share.


COVID-19 and Food Systems Compendium

Articles written by center team members and fellows that explore issues, responses, and concepts related to food systems work in the time of COVID-19.

Stories of hope and resilience in Virginia's Food System collected by our Center team from existing news articles and interviews.

These are Extension resources from Virginia Tech and Virginia State University that address COVID-19 in the Food System, or that are specifically relevant at this time, all in one place.

A compilation of resources particularly useful for addressing food systems issues in the time of COVID-19 organzied by state level, regional, national, and global resources from organizations, coalitions, networks and similar partnerships.