The social legitimacy of the ‘COVID-19 lockdown’, government’s regulations imposed to contain the spread of the virus, is most likely to run aground unless an urgent plan can be made to ensure that everyone in the country has access to sufficient food. And it’s not looking good. Based on interviews, statements by various organisations and our own experience, here is our summary of the already-evident impacts of the lockdown on poor people’s access to food, and on the informal food economy – from small farmers to street vendors and spaza shops – that is so important in meeting people’s daily food needs. What’s happened already and what’s coming soon What are the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the lockdown imposed from 27 March 2020? How is the lockdown being interpreted and enforced, and which parts of the food system are being closed down while others are able to continue operations? Here we discuss the immediate scenario of shortages and surpluses – where poor people as producers and traders are unable to continue to produce and sell, while at the same time poor people are unable to access sufficient nutritious food.