Local food systems feed communities
Local food systems drive economies, create connections, provide nourishment, and employ countless people from farm laborers to dishwashers. The small farms that form the backbone of local food systems are at the forefront of environmental sustainability, land and biodiversity conservation, and rural revitalization. However, they are in a moment of extreme uncertainty and vulnerability, as many of the large buyers they rely on have closed their doors or trimmed their operations, with the growing season just around the corner.
Disasters hit the poor and vulnerable the hardest, and disproportionately affect communities of color. As schools and offices remain closed and more and more people have to stay home, children, the elderly, and others who rely on free and reduced-price food will not get the nutrition they depend on. At the same time, small farmers and food hubs will lose most of their foodservice sales, small food businesses who rely on food service or in-person sales will close, and farm and food system workers will lose their livelihoods.
All of that will happen, unless we mobilize the local food system to do exactly what it does best: be agile, resilient, and responsive. In the midst of this crisis, people need to eat, work, and stay healthy, all of which the local food system can accomplish. We have a robust regional food network with the capacity to produce and distribute food locally and the connections in place to get food to the people who need it via partners like schools, food pantries, and other organizations serving at-risk and marginalized communities.
It is imperative that we invest in the local food system now to keep farms and food businesses viable and to provide food access to the most vulnerable in our communities so that food production and supplies remain stable and all people have equitable access to food in their communities. The Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition has formed around the collective goals of keeping people fed, farmers growing, and food businesses operating and maintaining our regional food system for many years to come.