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Munch & Bunch

The manifesto of food in post-pandemic society
Caring SocietyWellbeingFoodCommunities

Our Across RCA team draws our care onto the theme of post-covid lifestyle, specifically focusing on one of the daily essentials, food, as its significance was neglected before the pandemic because of the minor impacts among the society. However, during the pandemic, food distribution and shortage became a common issue. It brought us back to the pre-industrialised society which slowed down the process of food distribution. The lack of food supplies during the lockdowns re-emphasises the importance of food and re-addresses the public's attention to it. 

Using Shanghai as the main case study to investigate how distribution of food was the fundamental aspect that brought people together during lockdown and how food distribution acted as a catalyst between neighbourhoods, we will conduct interviews on people who experienced the lockdown situation.

We aimed to raise awareness and refresh our understanding of the construction and establishment of our community through the perspective of food. We planned to develop such topics through interactive designs, such as educational games and workshops.  

Our final outcome is a rather conceptual and experimental response towards our discourse. We decided to use the medium of letters, since letters connote a form of exchange, which creates connections, physically and emotionally, between one and another. This is corresponding and symbolising the social bonding that happened during the time, and the content of the letters are based on the first-hand information we gathered from the interviews. Considering the perspective of food, the letters are written on dried fruit and vegetable papers. The selection of fruits and vegetables are ones mentioned within the interviews, such as potato, radish and spring onion. These food ingredients were either ones that often-filled starving stomachs or what became rare in the lockdown. They reminded us of the importance of food, but more importantly stirred up thoughts and actions which reconstructed the relationship within society and connection between each other.

Yutong Lan
Anqi Liu
Emma Mo
Dongxuan Luo
Yiwen Lu
Vincent Tam
first phase
The unexpected Covid-outbreak led to changes in daily life, including how we eat and purchase, from panic buying that emptied shelves to the bartering and exchange of goods. Yet, from the perspective of food, it alternatively provokes other discourses upon the social aspects, which we think will continue to be discussed and impacted in the post-pandemic phase.
Second Phase
Our agenda in this project is to present the re-establishment of the sense of community within the society. Covid reshaped the relationship between people, it was seemingly de-socialising due to the social distancing and isolation. However, contrastingly, what happened in Shanghai has shown a new dimension in the aspect of social relations.
Third Phase
Therefore, applying the Shanghai pandemic crisis as the main case study to investigate, tackling this local incident to a global context. Our project will be research-based, as the means of introducing and revealing toward the global-wise public.
Forth Phase
Starting research with interviewing residents during the Shanghai pandemic crisis in 2022, to gather first-hand information including texts, voice recordings and images, to learn about their experiences and stories with food during the lockdown. Also including readings from other resources at this stage of research, such as social media and magazine and artists’ works. This is a way for us to identify narratives and have a better understanding of the role of food.

What was the issue? - Food shortage

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the Chinese government has insisted on sticking with its zero-COVID strategy. However, one of the biggest cities, Shanghai, was hit with its worst outbreak at the start of 2022 and the whole city was forced to be in a lockdown. Up to 25 million people had been trapped, strict rules stopped people from going out, which meant they had to either order in or go through the government for food supplies.

As the situation got worse, the lockdown had to continue, this unexpected lockdown extension led to struggles on food deliveries. Many suppliers were in the lockdown areas as well as the restricted transportation in the city, which all decreased the efficiency of food distribution. Consequently, grocery shops, websites and even the government were greatly overwhelmed with the requests for food. In the blink of an eye, the city reverted back to a pre-industrialised society of isolated hunter-gatherers/farmers. Small communities and individuals were left to their own devices to ‘hunt’ for food online, uncertain if there would be enough to eat for the day. Some resorted to makeshift indoor pots to regrow leftover vegetables.

Social connection

People’s social connections, emotional state, and willingness to act prosaically during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns was significantly worse than that in former normal times before the pandemic. This decline brimmed with their loneliness and depression because of limited face-to-face social connections during lockdowns. Experiencing similar pangs of loneliness, food shortage swept through every unit in the society simultaneously,which seemed to be an opportunity to re-bond the fading relationships among the neighbourhood.

Food deliveries among neighbours mitigated the issue of chaos due to the lack of management in food assignment during pandemic lockdowns and re-established a renovation system based on the once neglected neighbourhood itself. Thus people spontaneously formed a new community concept to revive the fading neighbour relationships. Accordingly, public activities could be reactivated and acquaintance society re-bridged.