Digital Food Sharing and Food Insecurity in the Covid-19 Era

22 Pages Posted: 17 May 2022

See all articles by Tamar Makov

Tamar Makov

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Tamar Meshulam

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Mehmet Cansoy

Fairfield University

Alon Shepon

Tel Aviv University

Juliet B. Schor

Boston College

Abstract

Sharing food surplus via the digital sharing economy is discussed as a promising strategy to reduce food waste and mitigate food insecurity at the same time. Yet if and how the global pandemic has affected digital food sharing are not yet well understood. Leveraging a comprehensive dataset covering over 1.8 million food exchanges facilitated by a popular peer-to-peer food sharing platform between 04/2017 - 01/2021, we find that UK activity levels not only rose during the pandemic, but outperformed projections. Examining the sociodemographic characteristics of platform users, average user activity and the flow of foods before and during the pandemic, we find no compelling evidence to support the view that the platform’s pandemic era growth is due to a large influx of food insecure users. Instead, we suggest that the dramatic growth in digital food sharing relates to increased network density and lifestyle changes potentially triggered by the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19, Sharing economy, Food Waste, Food insecurity, peer-to-peer, circular economy

Suggested Citation

Makov, Tamar and Meshulam, Tamar and Cansoy, Mehmet and Shepon, Alon and Schor, Juliet B., Digital Food Sharing and Food Insecurity in the Covid-19 Era. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4109351 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4109351

Tamar Makov (Contact Author)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

Tamar Meshulam

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

Mehmet Cansoy

Fairfield University ( email )

Dolan School of Business
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
United States

Alon Shepon

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel-Aviv, 6997801
Israel

Juliet B. Schor

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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