Project 2:

Assessing and Mitigating the Food Insecurity Consequences of COVID-19 Public Health Measures on Marginalized Refugees and Migrants in Canada, Latin America and Africa

Funder: CIHR Operating Grant: Addressing the Wider Health Impacts of COVID-19

The project’s overall goal is to address and improve responses to one of the most pressing social and health challenges associated with the rapidly evolving pandemic in Canada and LMICs—the food insecurity of urban migrants and refugees. It will advance evidence-based policy recommendations with broader applicability to other jurisdictions facing similar pandemic-related social, policy and public health challenges. The project will engage international, national and community stakeholders in the design of more effective counter-measures to deal with the food insecurity of marginalized and racialized populations from FCV countries during public health and economic crises driven by pandemics and other disasters.

The project’s specific objectives include:

  • To examine the impact of public health containment and mitigation responses to COVID-19 on the food security of marginalized refugee and migrant groups in urban areas, with an emphasis on documenting experiences of less visible, at-risk segments, including unaccompanied child migrants and youth, elderly migrants, and female-headed households;
  • To assess the similarities and differences between the three sites and migrants’ experience from selected FCV countries in each city in terms of access to government, business, and community food security and social protection mechanisms, including healthcare and other social services;
  • To provide critical decision-making and pandemic response data to local stakeholders to inform food and public health policy responses and interventions;
  • To strengthen the capacity of Canadian and LMIC researchers and research institutions to respond rapidly to ongoing and future food security shocks

Project 1:

Assessing and Mitigating the Food Security Consequences of COVID-19 in China

Funder: Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity

In an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Chinese government took drastic quarantine measures such as blocking roads, closing shops and confining citizens within residential compounds. These measures have major consequences for the food security of residents of affected areas. On social media, residents reported going hungry for days. To ensure food security in Chinese cities, the Chinese government and social organizations launched various immediate food security interventions and initiatives. However, this food security challenge has received much less media and research attention than the epidemic itself. This project will evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on household food security in Chinese cities, assess the effectiveness of temporary food security interventions from a multi-stakeholder perspective and develop social and policy measures to mitigate the impacts. Our objectives are to:

  • Investigate the immediate food security challenges resulting from China’s quarantine measures, unstable food supply, and fear of food shopping in two COVID-19 affected cities (Wuhan and Nanjing);
  • Compare food security in Nanjing following the COVID-19 outbreak with baseline data collected by HCP in 2015 [link to report];
  • Synthesize and assess policies established for and community response to address food security challenges and promote effective measures by engaging local stakeholders;
  • Draw lessons from the Chinese experience for other countries and cities experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project has two overlapping phases: (a) Evaluation of Immediate Consequences and Urgent Policy Responses and (b) Development of Comprehensive Food Security Assessment & Social and Policy Countermeasures. The project addresses several social and policy countermeasures. First, it will examine the cultural dimensions of COVID-19 by evaluating how households perceive and cope with food security challenges. Second, the research aims to evaluate the food security impacts of the drastic public health response, particularly the intercity and in-city quarantine measures. Third, it will assess the effectiveness of immediate food security interventions and make recommendations to mitigate the secondary impacts on food security and public health. Fourth, through surveys and interviews with citizens, food retailers, local social organizations and government officials, this project will involve local perspectives, citizens and communities in outbreak response efforts.


The Project is collecting and curating a BLOGS SERIES on COVID-19 and Food Security by a wide variety of experts exploring the implications of the pandemic for the food security of vulnerable populations.


The Project is collecting and curating media reports and research articles from around the world on COVID-19 and food security,  updated daily. These are organized geographically and can be consulted at RESOURCES on COVID-19 and Food Security.


The Project is producing various publications of the most recent research findings.