Planning and pandemics: COVID-19 illuminates why urban planners should have listened to food advocates all along

Journal publication cover.

Samina Raja, UB professor of urban planning and director of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, reveals that the current food system crisis was in the making long before COVID arrived, and highlights how community-led efforts in Buffalo are responding to the current crisis.

The article was published as part of a special issue on COVID-19, food and agriculture, published by the journal Agriculture and Human Values. Raja is among more than 100 leading scholars, authors, practitioners, farmers, activists, and analysts of agriculture and food systems around the world. All of the essays are freely available, for download and viewing, for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read Raja's article to learn more: “Planning and Pandemics: COVID 19 Illuminates Why Urban Planners Should Have listened to Food Advocates all Along,”

According to Raja, "Our communities’ food systems—all the structures, resources, and policies that enable food to travel from farm to plate—have been frayed for a long time. Black and brown neighborhoods in cities are redlined by supermarkets. Low nutrient, hyper processed foods are readily and cheaply available while high nutrition foods are hard to come by. Consolidation in the food industry has shortchanged farmers and consumers. Wages and benefits for workers—farmworkers, restaurant workers, grocery store workers—who are responsible for harvesting, packing, processing, shelving food have long been ignored. These problems are not new. Community advocates have been drawing our attention to structural disparities in our food systems for a long time. Our policy makers just didn’t listen."


Samina Raja, Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Director, Food Systems Planning and Health Communities Lab


Nature Public Health Emergency Collection

Date Published

May 2020