- Author: Melissa D. Ho
In this unprecedented and uncertain time, top of mind for all of us is the health, safety, security, and well-being of our families, employees, supporters, partners, and the community at large. We are all impacted by this pandemic, and strangely, there is a sense of solidarity and reflection that is bringing us all together as one connected community in this time of crisis.
A crucial part of WWF’s work on a “normal” day is addressing the challenge of how to produce and make accessible adequate nutritious food for a growing global population while ensuring the health of our planet. We seek to achieve this goal through the conservation of our vital landscapes and efficient use of resources while avoiding food loss and waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But as the world is facing a global health crisis, the foundations of our food system are also called into question, along with the interactions between people and the natural resources we all depend on.
People across the world are facing heightened levels of food insecurity as a result of this pandemic. The negative impacts are more severely affecting vulnerable communities. We share concern for those on the frontlines of our food production and supply chains and whether they can take care of their own health and practice social distancing while continuing essential work. Farmers and ranchers, who already shoulder a good burden of risk, are now trying to operate in the face of health threats, fluctuating demands, potential labor shortages, and volatile global markets.
Along with so many others, we are asking ourselves, what can be done and how can we help? How can we work to address the short-term urgent issues of supply chain disruption, shifting livelihoods, food redistribution and recovery efforts as restaurants and food service sectors close, and more, while not losing sight of larger food system changes that are and will be needed for people and planet?
One answer may be found in how we value food, food production, and food systems. We are seeking to support the emergence of a better-connected community—both locally and globally— that is coming together to pursue innovative, balanced, and sustainable new ways to produce, deliver, and provide access to food for all.
During the last couple of weeks, our friends, neighbors, communities, partners, and we are working around the clock to pull together resources for those home-bound or at risk. There are so many ways we’ve seen this happen:
- A new Farmer Relief Fund where 100% of the funds raised will go to farmers and ranchers
- Virtual tip jars for service and hospitality workers that are losing wages
- Restaurants setting up community kitchens and providing free meal pickup for kids who are not able to get their breakfasts and lunches during the school day, working to shift to take-out, and selling their excess food at discounted rates
- Donating to vital food banks
- Using digital platforms like NextDoor to volunteer to run errands or offering up extra canned goods or cooking to their neighbors.
On an individual level, we are planning our meals carefully and only using what we need. We are trying to get creative in our kitchens while caring for our families and sharing recipes to make food diverse and delicious. We are sharing our tips to make the most of what we have and not waste food. We are supporting our partners who are at the forefront of food recovery, retail, and production efforts. We are making the most of learning resources for our children, like WWF’s Wild Classroom to teach them about the connection between food and nature. We have this renewed notion that cooking and eating at home may bring back the ritual and renew the value and fun of sharing a meal together.
Our teams are looking for ways to reshape our current food systems to engage in a conversation about why, what and how we can work together to deliver better and balanced, healthy and wholesome food to everyone in our local and global communities, during this crisis and after.
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