Mar 19, 2020

COVID-19 Food System response letter


In an effort to recognize the importance of the local food system and it's essential need in our community, FPAC and partners have crafted a statement urging policymakers to classify farmers, gardeners, and local food distribution sites such as nurseries, garden centers and green houses as essential services in order to keep them running in a "shelter in place" scenario. 

If your organization would like to sign on to this letter, please contact Elisa@nolafoodpolicy.org

 

COVID-19 New Orleans Local Food System Impacts
In these increasingly uncertain times, one thing is clear: fresh, healthy food is essential to our
community. Our local food system depends on our farmers, fishers, and food producers to bring us
that food. Local food is more important than ever as our globalized supply chains face an
unprecedented challenge. We can bolster our economy, bodies, and our communities with local food.

Our local farms perform an essential function and must continue to operate. We will, even under
strict quarantine, be requesting that urban farmers be able to work on their farms with appropriate
precautions. What happens on a farm in March impacts the production in July. New Orleans farmers
are up to date with the best information on produce safety and handling, and we trust their motivation to keep our community healthy and safe. Direct to consumer farmers cannot simply move to a new model overnight; if the city can work with farm support organizations and advocates to allow individual vendors to set up to sell, assist them by amplifying this (in lieu of a market organization doing it) and be flexible, it will benefit the city.

Farmers markets are on the front lines of a healthy local food system. These markets provide income for our farmers to ensure a steady supply of fresh food. In light of restaurants decreasing purchasing, we will need to support direct sales from farmers even more in the coming months. The revenue farmers make today pays for their seeds next season, and a serious threat to our farmer’s income means a loss of farms for years to come. In this time of social distancing, well-designed markets can be a safer alternative to a large and crowded grocery store.


Community gardens hold a different place in our local food system. Community gardens don't
provide the bulk of food for our families and neighborhoods, but rather subsidize our grocery budgets
and build community. In community gardens, we learn respect for one another, our food, and the
earth. During this trying time, community gardens are advised to require their members to social
distance and set up systems for continued maintenance without interaction. Community gardens are
already helping fill gaps in food access and will continue to do so.


Garden Centers, Greenhouses, and Nurseries will provide an invaluable service to those at home
through the production of plants that bring beauty, support pollinators, and grow food. During
WWII, home gardens produced an estimate of 10 million tons of food. If our domestic food
production is halted, the food security of our nation is at risk. Allowing our community to purchase
plants and soil during this uncertain time will not only buffer that impact but increase mental and
physical health in a time of isolation and inactivity.


As some of our steadfast markets may closing, there will be an impact on the local food system that won't be
very easy to measure. As some of our steadfast markets may close, there will be an impact on the local food system that by many local and national estimates, is a significant contribution to regional economies .  Delivery of fresh products to your home, pickups from hubs, and other innovations will enable farmers to continue to serve the community. We ask that you give farmers
your support so that they can respond robustly when this global crisis has ended. Their ability to be
nimble will prove invaluable.


New Orleans prides itself on our food and our year-round growing season. If we want to keep our
beautiful satsumas, strawberries, and gulf seafood, we must support those who grow, catch, or make;
even in times of hardship. The health and wealth of our region depend on it.

Signed,

New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, SPROUT NOLA, Greater New Orleans Growers Alliance, Compost NOW, Top Box Foods Louisiana, Recirculating Farms Coalition, Grow Dat Youth Farm, Culinaria Center, Grow For Food, Tulane Nutrition Department, GNO Caring Coalition, Fund 17, River Queen Greens, Poche Family Farm, Schmelly's Dirt Farm, Pistil and Stamen, Molly Faye Flowers, Baby T-Rex Farms, Abundance Flower Farm,

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