Motivation: Detailed empirical work on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security is scant. Local management of food security has received little attention.
Purpose: This paper describes emergency food policies in Wuhan and Nanjing, China during lockdown in 2020 and their implications for household food security in the two cities.
Methods and approach: Policy documents and background data describe the emergency measures. Online surveys of residents of two Chinese cities were used to gauge household food security.
Findings: Despite the determined efforts of provincial and city governments to ensure that food reached people who were locked down in Wuhan, or subject to restrictions on movement in Nanjing, households experienced some decline in food security. Most households found they could not access their preferred foods. But a minority of households did not get enough to eat.Government had contingency plans for the pandemic that ensured that most people had sufficient, if not preferred, food. But not all households were fully covered.
Policy implications: A more resilient system of food distribution is needed, including a relatively closed and independent home delivery system. Grassroots organizations such as residential community committees, property management organizations, and spontaneous volunteer groups need to be brought into the management of emergency food provision.
Keywords: COVID‐19; food access; food insecurity.
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