The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted local and global food systems. Essential workers who provide food face new risks and uncertainties, including girls and women who are often the primary meal providers in the Global South; undocumented workers on farms and factories; food pantry employees and volunteers; truck drivers and grocery store employees stocking shelves; and those in the gig economy delivering meals. Consumers also face heightened economic hardship, and the safety nets designed to address food security and poverty must overcome old and new challenges during the pandemic. Governments in industrialized nations have injected trillions of dollars into their economies, but further efforts are needed to address economic and food security in communities throughout the world both during and after the crisis. The World Food Programme has recently warned of a ‘hunger pandemic’ that could leave a quarter of a billion people without adequate food and nutrition.
Catherine Bertini and Ertharin Cousin, two former directors of the World Food Programme, joined by Mansueto Fellow Anni Beukes, will discuss what the pandemic means for food security from south side neighborhoods to informal settlements across the world. We will ask: What is being done to support food businesses and protect essential workers? How can we ensure women and children are protected, and provide meals for vulnerable people amid the COVID-19 pandemic? The discussion will draw on the panelists’ expertise to address how federal, state, and local governments as well as transnational entities like the U.N. are responding to hunger emergencies; what Universities, large employers, and community organizations have done at local levels; and how we might learn from current efforts to make strides towards more resilient food systems and resources.
Catherine Bertini is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Ms. Bertini is the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for her transformational leadership at the World Food Programme (WFP), which she directed for ten years. She is the founder of the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, which supports programs to increase opportunities for girls and women to attend school. As a United Nations Under Secretary General, she led UN humanitarian missions to the Horn of Africa and to Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. Ms. Bertini is a professor emeritus at Syracuse University, board member of the Stuart Family Foundation, and the Global Food Banking Network, former Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and chair of the board of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
Ertharin Cousin is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University and Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Ms. Cousin served as the executive director of the World Food Programme from 2012 until 2017, and the US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome. Prior to her global hunger work, she served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of America’s Second Harvest (now Feeding America). Previously, Ms. Cousin served as senior vice president for Albertson’s Foods and was appointed by the US president to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. Ms. Cousin has been named on the Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women” list, as the Fortune “Most Powerful Woman in Food and Drink,” on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list, and as one of the “500 Most Powerful People on the Planet” by Foreign Policy magazine
Anni Beukes (Moderator) is a Resident Fellow at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, Anni Beukes studies how digital mapping and other analytical approaches impact marginalized communities around the world, such as through the Million Neighborhoods Map, which provides the first comprehensive look at informal settlements across the Global South. Prior to her fellowship, she served as data ecosystem manager at Slum Dwellers International, where she bolstered community influence in broader knowledge acquisition efforts and advocated for the development of tools and methods to enhance this involvement. Beukes received her undergraduate and masters’ degrees from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in Development and Environment and Social Anthropology.