Learning the health and food lessons of the pandemic: New study gains funding


A Department of Health and Society professor is collaborating with partners in Brazil and the United Kingdom as part of a study to analyse the social innovations for food and health justice that emerged during the pandemic.

Associate Professor Suzanne Sicchia is the principal investigator for the study, entitled Building Back Better from Below: Harnessing Innovations in Community Response and Intersectoral Collaboration for Health and Food Justice Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The project examines food security and health inequality during the pandemic in three cities worldwide: São Paulo (Brazil), Toronto (Canada) and Brighton (UK), alongside partners from institutions in these cities. It will analyse the grassroots social innovations and collaborations that emerged among activists and front-line service providers working with made-marginal, racialized communities and assess their outcomes with a view to proposing new forms of bottom-up governance.

“There is no question the pandemic has magnified longstanding structural neglect and exacerbated related racialized health inequities,” said Prof. Sicchia. “Community agencies like TAIBU Community Health Centre, who were already working for change, stepped up their efforts by collaborating with other community partners and actors to fill in the gaps and meet the acute needs of the communities they serve. Our project critically maps and reflects on these grassroots, social networks and innovations to identify lessons learned that support a more just post-pandemic world.”

The project was one of only 19 projects worldwide to qualify for the Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) for the Social Sciences and Humanities’ Recovery, Renewal and Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World awards. The US$16 million fund is being dispersed among groups of researchers aiming to expand our understanding of how to combat the effects of COVID-19 and build more resilient and just societies in a post-pandemic world. The Building Back Better from Below project was awarded almost $900,000, split between the three partner institutions.

The findings of these projects aim to support global recovery and renewal, and to enhance the resilience of society in a post-pandemic world. They are the first jointly-funded projects in the world to investigate the medium-and long-term effects of the pandemic on all aspects of health, social, economic, political, and cultural life in detail.

For more information contact David Blackwood, Research Communications Coordinator, Department of Health and Society, University of Toronto Scarborough at David.blackwood@utoronto.ca