How COVID-19 is disrupting Our Food System: What We’re Reading
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25 March 2020

KK&P Senior Consultant Ben Kerrick was quoted in The New York Times on March 18, in a piece about how NYC’s emergency food resource network is preparing for the coronavirus crisis:

The New York Times: New York’s Food Distribution Networks Brace for an Unprecedented Threat

Emergency food distribution experts say the virus exposes underlying weaknesses in the social safety net — that it’s not a matter only of having enough supply to feed the city, but of residents having enough money to afford groceries. “Solving hunger with food is, of course, important,” said Ben Kerrick, a senior consultant at KK&P, a food system consultancy. “But this exposes that it’s not just, and not even primarily, a food problem. It’s a financial resources problem.”

Also quoted was Stephen Grimaldi, Executive Director of New York Common Pantry, one of the organizations participating in a food pantry collective action group facilitated by KK&P.

Here are a few other highlights of what we’ve been reading.

New York Daily News: Help us feed the hungry now: NYC emergency food aid during coronavirus
KK&P’s network of collaborating emergency food providers – West Side Campaign Against HungerNew York Common PantryProject HospitalitySt. John’s Bread & Life, and new participant Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen – penned this op-ed about the critical role they and their staffs are playing in feeding NYC’s hungry – with suggested actions you can take to ensure these important organizations continue to operate through the current crisis.

Politico: Coronavirus pushes New York City’s food pantries to ‘nothing short of a crisis’
Additional perspective on the challenges facing NYC’s emergency food resource network.

The New York Times: Will the Coronavirus Threaten Our Food?
On the risks facing our national and global food supply chains in the months to come.

Medium: COVID-19 is pushing our food system to its limits (Part 1)
A glimpse into the myriad challenges faced by CommonWealth Kitchen, a successful and well-regarded food business incubator in Boston, which made the difficult decision to temporarily pause operations and close its doors on March 20.

Eater NY: How Coronavirus Is Impacting NYC’s Food World
A continuously updated roundup of Eater stories on coronavirus and the food sector in NYC.

The Atlantic: America’s Restaurants Will Need a Miracle
The New York Times: Will We Have an America Without Restaurants?

Two articles on the bleak road ahead faced by the country’s restaurant sector. From the Atlantic: “Restaurants in a pandemic are like beachfront properties in a hurricane. Their devastation is both a tragedy and an omen of greater havoc to come… This is our great economic crisis in a nutshell: Consumers are vanishing, but financial obligations are not.” Both pieces argue for significant and decisive intervention from the public sector.

Civil Eats: The Fight to Keep Farmers’ Markets Open During Coronavirus

Farmers’ markets’ multiple identities – food retail, community event, gathering space, etc. – have complicated their navigation of the coronavirus landscape, with some closing, and others seeking designation as “essential services.” Momentum and advocacy are building for broader – even federal – designation as essential, along with additional support.

Fabio Parasecoli: Food (systems) in the time of Coronavirus

Speculation – and questions – about what the post-coronavirus global food system might look like.

The Counter: As the hospitality industry lays off hundreds of thousands, grocery becomes a booming employment opportunity

On the tectonic shifts in the food sector’s employment landscape.

Mother Jones: Minnesota and Vermont Just Classified Grocery Clerks as Emergency Workers

Minnesota and Vermont take the progressive step of classifying grocery clerks as emergency workers – meaning they will have access to free childcare: “Grocery clerks are often underpaid and underappreciated. As they brave the daily crowds of people rushing to stock up their pantries, and risk infecting themselves through contact with so many customers, their essential role in a functioning society has become clearer than ever.”