Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on People, Pantries and Practices in the Emergency Food System

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the emergency food system, challenging a system that was already operating with few resources. Food pantries developed strategies to meet surging need while navigating COVID-19 safety challenges and dramatic shifts in food supply. This report investigates how a set of food pantries in Metuchen and Edison, New Jersey, adapted to these circumstances. Our project has two main objectives: 1) Explore how food pantries in the Metuchen and Edison area that are part of the Metuchen Edison Assistance League (MEAL) coalition, modified their practices during the pandemic. 2) Share how pantries have responded to support their work into the future. These objectives are guided by three main research questions:

  1. How has COVID-19 impacted the emergency food system?
  2. How are food pantry directors helping to mitigate these effects currently?
  3. What new actions can food pantry directors implement to help mitigate these effects?