Food insecurity, COVID-19 and the emergence of roll-call neoliberalism

October 2, 2023 by Kiran Champatsingh

Professor Michael Classens published ‘Good morning Metro shoppers!’ Food insecurity, COVID-19 and the emergence of roll-call neoliberalism. The abstract is below: 


From April 2020 to December 2021, the Canadian federal government earmarked $330,000,000 through the Emergency Food Security Fund to address food insecurity during the COVID-19 global pandemic. These funds were disbursed through a handful of national and regional emergency food and food justice agencies to smaller front-line organizations for the purchase of emergency food provisions and personal protective equipment, and to hire additional workers. We theorize these dynamics within the broader processes of neoliberalization and argue that the Canadian federal government was conscripting food justice and community development organizations into its efforts to address dramatically increasing rates of food insecurity across the country through charity emergency food provisioning. Within Peck and Tickell’s stylized conceptions of the destructive (roll-back) and creative (roll-out) moments of the process of neoliberalization, we frame the crisis of COVID-19 as exposing a form of recalibration (roll-call) neoliberalism. We focus on this dynamic specifically within the context of household food insecurity in Canadian communities and argue that the federal government’s funding regime during the global pandemic effectively directed food justice organizations (and by extension, the populace in general) away from a more ambitious social change agenda towards the more acceptable strategy (in neoliberal terms) of emergency food provisioning services.