Tom Evans and his research team at UArizona are using geographic information systems and data sets to track food insecurity “hot spots” triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing crisis has resulted in severe unemployment and disruptions in the food supply chain in specific areas across the US. Dr. Evans was awarded a rapid National Science Foundation award for his project, "Spatial Resilience of Food Production, Supply Chains, and Security to COVID-19." His work aims to analyze the impacts of the disruptions on food production, food consumption, and supply chains to identify those locations most vulnerable to food security impacts. This project will also develop innovative analytical models and data integration approaches to investigate how the US food system is affected during a pandemic. Research outcomes, including county-level maps, model code, and spatial datasets, will be made freely available online for the research community.
This research was supported by the Arizona Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) whose goals include research investments in health and environmental solutions. Food security constitutes a key public health domain and the COVID pandemic has imposed increased challenges for Arizonans already struggling to meet their household's food needs. TRIF funding enabled rapid analysis of COVID impacts to provide actionable information to Arizona policymakers.