EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A team of researchers led by Michigan State University are working to create more sustainable food supply chain systems.

The project received a $10 million grant from the USDA and is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program.

As the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted in recent years, food systems at local and regional can be disrupted, which experts refer to as “shocks.”

Other common sources of food supply shocks include extreme weather events like hurricanes and foodborne pathogens such as E. coli.

Shocks can occur simultaneously and without warning and have devastating effects. The goal of this new research team is to build food systems that can withstand several shocks happening concurrently.

The project is being led by Brent Ross, an associate professor with the MSU Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.

“The frequency of these complex events is only expected to increase over the coming years,” Ross said in a press release. “It’s essential to gain a greater understanding of these relationships to improve decision making that allows for disruptions to have as minimal of an impact on food and nutrition security as possible, especially for vulnerable U.S. populations.”

The researchers are evaluating the characteristics of food supply chains that may put them at risk, and are studying historical and projected shocks and their mitigation strategies.

Using artificial intelligence and decision support tools, the team is modeling multiple shocks to simulate an assortment of scenarios, while factoring in vulnerable populations.

You can read more about the project at the website for MSU’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.