I wake up every day a little bit stunned—COVID-19 has changed all of our lives so dramatically since the World Health Organization declared the disease a global pandemic. Many nations, from the United States and around the world, are struggling to contain the coronavirus. And its impact on agriculture, hospitality, food and service workers, processing, and distribution has been truly devastating.
• The outbreak could cost local and regional food economies, from farmers markets to restaurants to farm-to-school programs, a total of US$1.3 billion between March and May 2020, according to a new National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition analysis.
• Small farmers, many of whom were already financially struggling, now face even more challenges, Diana Martin of the Rodale Institute writes for Food Tank.
• People who are already food insecure, including school-aged children, will have a harder time accessing food—particularly in Latin America and the global South.
• Between 60 and 75 percent of the food-service workforce that have been laid off—undocumented food workers, those who have been in jobs for a short time, or people who rely on several different jobs—are unable to access unemployment benefits, Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, told me on Food Talk Live.
• Many restaurants have been forced to reduce their operations or close entirely. “It’s kind of like going through a grieving process, I would imagine. Because our restaurants are our second homes,” chef Steven Satterfield described on Food Talk Live.
No matter where you live, two of the most effective preventative measures against COVID-19 are simple — washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and avoiding close contact with other people by staying home if you are able.
And while we’re all physically distant from one another, we can still come together and find ways to collaborate and solve these problems together. Organizations across the food system are rushing to the defense of restaurants, service workers, and people who are food-insecure. Food Tank is keeping a running list of 40+ groups you can support with money, donated food, or volunteer time no matter where you live.
In our daily Food Talk Live conversation series, which streams live on Facebook and is posted to our podcast, Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, I’ve been able to speak with people on the front lines of the food system. Join us every weekday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Here are some recent conversations I’ve found particularly hopeful:
• Caesaré Assad of Food System 6 on how small food entrepreneurs are having a big influence
• Emily Broad Lieb, Director of the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, on protecting all workers across the food chain
• Katherine Miller of the James Beard Foundation on the future of restaurants and dining out
• Kimbal and Christiana Musk, Food Advocates and Entrepreneurs, on supporting the most vulnerable
• Mara Fleischman of the Chef Ann Foundation on the importance of school food programs
• Regina Anderson of Food Recovery Network on the power of young people in helping food-insecure communities