First online Food Talks on Impact of COVID on food systems
2 April 2020 - Impact Hub London

Oh the irony! As a consequence of the Coronavirus we decided to reschedule our first Food Talks event of 2020 covering the topic ‘How food can save the world’ with the overarching theme ‘We are all emergency respondents now’. Instead we met for an online discussion about Coronavirus and our food systems. 

We’re seeing the impact of COVID-19 on our food systems, with panic stockpiling and just-in-time supply chains leaving supermarket shelves empty. This pandemic is revealing the failings and fragility of the dominant food system. We were glad to come together to discuss the impact on our food systems and look to the future, on how we can build more resilient systems. 

This dynamic event was hosted by our friend Dan Crossley, Executive Director of the Food Ethics Council, with insights from food and systems change experts Dee Woods, Co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen,  Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of UK Sustain, Sara Venn from Incredible Edible Bristol, and Dr John Ingram, from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. 

On immediate crisis response, Dee shared insights on the impact of COVID19 on people’s access to food, sharing the need to take the pressure off food aid providers, and highlighted the need for a more coordinated effort that ensures that everyone, especially vulnerable people, have access to enough food. While Kath Dalmeny highlighted the importance of making sure fresh and healthy food gets to people in the long term. It was lovely to hear Sara add incredible local stories – we have seen an amazing support system spring up across the city and country of people supporting each other, it’s been a miraculous and extraordinary response

The panel discussed how we can build a more resilient food system by supporting local food markets and future collaboration between large market chains and local markets and suppliers. Sara shared the importance of recognising the power of local food systems to support people on the ground, and the importance of fostering connection and collaboration between local food groups. Sara shared – what is happening on the ground is very effective, local groups are connecting and should continue to do so, “It’s going to need us all working together.”

To wrap up, the panel discussed what positive actions we can all take as individuals to make a difference. Some points included volunteering and supporting local food aid providers on the ground and lobbying governments to support people; believing in your own power to make a difference; and supporting your local food markets. 

Couldn’t make it? Watch the event here (start at 2 min 48 seconds).


The overarching theme of our Food Talks in 2020 is ‘We are all emergency respondents now.’ We want to explore in what ways our food systems need to be transformed in order to tackle the intersecting climate, nature, obesity and democracy emergencies. The Food Talks: How food can save the world event that was originally planned for that day has been rescheduled for Tuesday 30th June at 6.30pm, RSVP here.


Food Talks is supported by our partners at the Food Ethics Council, Organico, and London Food Link, part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.