Food Retail Environment Study for Health & Economic Resiliency

The Food Retail Environment Study for Health and Economic Resiliency (FRESHER) is a pilot study of the effects of COVID-19 on restaurants, fast food outlets, grocery stores, cafes, bars, pubs, and alcohol retail stores in Ontario, across all types of communities. 

We are conducting a survey of employees, managers, and owners to determine how the pandemic has affected individual people, and interviewing business owners to determine the impacts of the pandemic and subsequent government and other organizational support programs and policies.

The evidence we gather from this study will be useful for policymakers to assess the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, and provide evidence that can be used to create support programs and policies that will aid in the recovery of the industry. We also hope to learn and compile strategies that food business owners have used to keep their businesses open, and share this information as a helpful resource for the entire industry.

Phase 1 Findings

Phase 1 Report

This report was prepared by the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) at Western University in partnership with the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board.

Download PDF (52mb)

Participate in the survey

Study Info

Access more information about the study, and copies of the Letter of Information related to the survey and interview activities that you can download for your records.

Story Map

Browse early findings in the FRESHER Story Map, a GIS interface for interacting with spatial data collected throughout the study.


A resource list of supports and subsidies that have been made available by the Government of Canada for individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Deep Dish Blog

In our Deep Dish series, the research team behind FRESHER aims to share short summaries from our research in combination with analysis of news and reports from across the industry.


Participate in an interview as an owner or executive