Food security in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Argentine case

Food security in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Argentine case

Leda Giannuzzi

Toxicology Laboratory, Exacts Sciences College, National University of La Plata (UNLP), La Plata, Buenos Aires. Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Criotecnología de Alimentos (CIDCA), CCT-La Plata. Facultad Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata. Street 47 and 116 (1900) La Plata, Argentina.

International Journal of Food and Nutrition Research

The context of pandemic of the human coronavirus COVID-19, preventive strategies based on mandatory social isolation (quarantine) were imposed by governments to reduce transmission in the community. However, they have had a strong impact on the economies of the countries and on the people as massive layoffs, decreased wages, uncertainty, inability to work formally, increasing precariousness and inequality and food insecurity. Without a doubt, the pandemic surprised Argentina without the necessary tools to amortize the attacks of the disease, and all the collateral consequences that emerge from it.

The concept of food insecurity represents a situation or a process experienced by households in which there is a limited and uncertain availability of the quantity and quality of food that allow covering the nutritional requirements of people, thus as an also limited and uncertain availability of the ability to acquire them in an acceptable way from a social and cultural perspective. This work addresses household food insecurity at the micro-social level based on their own surveys and describes the strategies carried out by households in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires city, Argentina to withstand the effect. FI status was assessed among 200 adult university students a mean age of 28±6 years (57% female, 43% male) during isolation period in April -May 2020 using the food insecurity experience scale (FIES).

The students responded affirmatively and with a higher percentage value to the items related to the lack of money to consume healthy and nutritious food.  Food security status of the 200 students survey, 23.5 per cent (n = 47) were food secure. Food insecurity was reported by 76.5% (n = 153). Of these, 50% (n = 100) were mild food insecurity, 25.5% (n = 51) were moderate, while 1% (n = 2) were severe food insecurity.

Food insecurity derived from access, as well as the difficulties of finding variety in food at affordable prices due to the obstacles imposed by the isolation affected food security.  The changes on food intake during quarantine period was also analysed. In the current particular situation, it is advisable to improve the consumption of fresh food. Meat consumption has also been altered, shifting its consumption to cuts of less economic value. Among the reasons for this change in eating habits during this period, it is possible that the increase in stress, anxiety due to isolation, as well as the economic reasons and those that result from difficulties in accessing points of sale could explain these changes.

Keywords: Food security; COVID-19; FIES survey; Changes in food consumption; Argentina; Pandemic

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How to cite this article:
Leda Giannuzzi. Food security in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Argentine case. International Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 2020; 4:38. DOI:10.28933/ijfnr-2020-09-2505


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