Building Regional Food System Resilience in Southern Arizona – Learning from COVID-19

University of Arizona researchers: Gigi Owen (Climate Assessment for the Southwest), Eden Kinkaid (School of Geography and Development), and Laurel Bellante (Center for Regional Food Studies).


This research project examines the impacts of COVID-19 on southern Arizona’s food system. The project aims to produce a detailed and holistic analysis of how COVID-19 and its associated social and economic impacts have affected various parts of southern Arizona’s food system, including food production, distribution, consumption, and food waste. The research team is using multiple research tools, including surveys, interviews, policy analysis, media analysis, and secondary data to understand how COVID-19 has impacted people who work in the regional food system and how they are responding to the disruptions or opportunities caused by the pandemic.


The overarching goal of the study is to gain an understanding of COVID-19’s impacts on food and agriculture in our region to support the development of a local food system that is more resilient to social, economic, and environmental stressors and disruptions. The results of the study will be shared widely, particularly with various institutions in Tucson and southern Arizona that are involved in food and agricultural policy.


The research project is a collaboration between the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) and the Center for Regional Studies at the University of Arizona. The initial results of the study will be presented in the 2021 State of the Tucson Food System Report and will also be published in other venues.

Please Complete Our Food Producer Survey 

Are you a food producer based in or near Arizona? Do you sell some portion of your products to consumers in Pima County? If you answered yes to both questions, we would like to hear from you!! 

This survey is designed for food producers who manage or operate any type of agricultural operation (such as farms, orchards, ranches, dairy farms, backyard gardens) based in or near Arizona, and who sell any portion of their food products to distributors, processors, or directly to consumers in Pima County. The main objective of this research is to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our regional food system in southern Arizona. Initial results of this research will be shared in the 2020-21 State of the Tucson Food System Report to be co-written by CRFS and CLIMAS researchers later this year.
The survey should take between 20-30 minutes to complete and we are offering $15 compensation for the first 100 eligible respondents who complete the survey.

Please complete the survey by December 24, 2020.

Click here to go to the survey: Southern Arizona Food Systems Survey for Agricultural Producers
Or you may cut and paste this URL into your browser:

Thank you for your participation. Understanding the types of changes people are making amid crisis can help us learn about building a more resilient food system.
Please feel free to share this survey invitation with other agricultural producers who are eligible to participate. 



Gigi Owen Headshot

Gigi Owen


Dr. Gigi Owen is a research scientist with the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) program. CLIMAS supports transdisciplinary and participatory climate research and is housed in the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR) at the University of Arizona. As a qualitative social scientist with training in geography and political ecology, Gigi’s research interests center on interactions between humans and their environments. Her current research involves understanding if and how local adaptation strategies help people address impacts of climate change. She has worked on air, land, and water quality issues across the Arizona-Sonora border region and spent two years studying the ecology of desert grasslands in Sonora, Mexico. More information about Gigi is on the CLIMAS website or you can email her at


Eden Kinkaid Headshot

Eden Kinkaid


Eden Kinkaid is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Arizona. Eden’s research is broadly concerned with changing geographies of food and agriculture, with a particular focus on sustainable agriculture. Eden has conducted ethnographic fieldwork on issues of agrarian change, agricultural development, and the shift to organic agriculture in Uttarakhand, India. Eden’s most recent research focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on Tucson’s food system. In addition to these projects, Eden pursues a variety of interests in human geography through their research and writing, including geographic research methods, queer and feminist geographies, geographic education, and geographic theory. For more about Eden’s research, visit their website, follow them on Twitter (@queergeog), or email them at


Laurel Bellante

Laurel Bellante


Dr. Laurel Bellante is Assistant Professor and Director of the BA in Food Studies in the School of Geography, Development and Environment (SGDE) and assistant director of the UA Center for Regional Food Studies. Laurel is a human-environment geographer specializing in global environmental change, sustainable food systems, and agrarian questions in both the United States and Mexico. She uses a political ecology approach to connect what is happening in people’s kitchens, farms, and communities to larger political economic and environmental changes occurring regionally, nationally, and globally. Laurel’s research is centered on understanding and supporting the creation of more just and sustainable food systems. In the US-Mexico border region, Laurel has researched organic farming networks, linkages between poverty and climate change, food waste reduction strategies, and food justice and food sovereignty initiatives. Laurel also participates as a board member of Tucson City of Gastronomy. You can email Laurel at