Case Synopsis

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on all aspects of life, with everything from the business sector to schools having been affected by it. It has given the world a chance to realize new and emerging diseases that can cause pandemics are a constant threat. Additionally, the pandemic has shown with greater clarity how much people rely on food as a daily necessity, and how easily food access can be threatened. The pandemic has left many grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, bars, bakeries, cafés, and coffee shops in the food retail and food service industry struggling to survive even though food is so essential. With many people staying home because they are fearful of contracting the virus and they are heeding public health advice, food service businesses have fewer customers. Although many people are still getting food delivered and ordering takeout, the pandemic has simply resulted in fewer customers overall. This drop in orders, coupled with periodic government restrictions on dine-in options, has led to reduced overall food retail business profitability. Although the government has helped by introducing some financial COVID-19 benefits and services, these programs have restricted eligibility requirements that have not worked for every business. As a major grocery chain, Melcom has taken this opportunity to make an impact on the communities it serves by enhancing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. Melcom has always engaged in socially responsible community projects such as back-to-school food drives and university scholarships for children from low-income neighbourhoods. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food industry, Melcom decided to partner with HEALab to expand their corporate social responsibility to affected businesses. This new project would entail conducting research into the food business industry and researching what measures could be taken to help Melcom’s partners and possible research into communities facing food insecurity during the pandemic. This case uses Melcom as an example of a grocery store chain that has engaged in new corporate social responsibility initiatives because of the pandemic. By examining this case, information can be drawn about how local, provincial, federal governments, local partners/stakeholders and corporate partners can support food business industry during a public health emergency.

Case Objectives

1. Discuss how situational assessments and logic models help in the planning and implementation aspect of any project.
2. Discuss how public health emergencies such as pandemics affect food businesses. 3. Understand the importance of stakeholder analysis in terms of CSR.
4. Discuss the relevance of CSR amid crises such as pandemics.
5. Understand the importance of effective partnerships in crisis interventions.

Case Study Questions

1. What do you think CSR is? What do you think of when you hear about CSR in the business/corporate world? How does your definition apply to this particular case?
2. What methods of information gathering can be used when conducting a situational assessment?
3. Give an example of CSR and why you think it is CSR.
4. Identify the stakeholders in the case. Are there other stakeholders you can think of?
5. What are their roles, interests (low, mid, high), and power (low, mid, high, in terms of influence) based on your readings?
6. What is your understanding of the term situational assessment?
7. What are the facilitators of effective partnerships in crisis situations such as pandemics?


Corporate social responsibility, community, COVID-19, food insecurity, food business industry, pandemic, partnerships, program planning, resiliency, service industry, situational assessment, stakeholder analysis/engagement



Recommended Citation

Boamah, A. O., Gilliland, J., Wray, A., Sibbald, S.L. (2022). [title of case.] in: Darnell, R. & Sibbald, S. L. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2021. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.