Social innovation and food provisioning initiatives to reduce food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic

Cities. 2022 Dec:131:104034. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2022.104034. Epub 2022 Oct 14.


This paper examines food provisioning initiatives that were implemented to reduce food insecurity during the period of the spread of Covid-19. Food insecurity increased sharply during this time, particularly among those who contracted the virus and had to remain in quarantine, and those who suddenly lost their jobs. As a possible solution to alleviate the problem, voluntary organisations collected food from stores with surplus produce (such as restaurants that were forced to close, supermarkets, etc.) and redistributed it to people in need. This redistribution occurred in several Italian cities, including Cremona, which was one of the first towns in Italy to be dramatically affected by the pandemic. Looking through the lens of social innovation theory, this paper analyses redistribution initiatives in this town and assesses their capacity to enhance their impact on social wellbeing and to involve local society in response to social challenges. Thanks to desk research and interviews with several volunteers, it demonstrates that these initiatives are good examples of social innovation, as they address emerging social challenges and generate benefits for the entire society (not just food aid recipients), reconfigure previous aid models, actively involve local population, and assume educational and social assistance purposes.

Keywords: Covid-19; Cremona; Food insecurity; Food provisioning; Small towns; Social innovation.