Grow your own food

Blogger Christine Wong recently shared five ideas for positively impacting the environment while staying at home, including tips for sprouting seeds and regrowing vegetable scraps, reducing food waste while producing your own food. We have more ideas about how to grow your own food on FoodPrint, including information on starting seeds in pots you make yourself.

Support Local and Sustainable Restaurants

As restaurants, bars and stores shutter across the country, it can feel more challenging than ever to champion local, sustainable food systems. Here are some ways you can help sustain these establishments and the people who work at them:

Support a restaurant relief fund

Organizations like the James Beard Foundation, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the Service Workers Coalition are all collecting donations to help hospitality employers cover things like rent, health insurance and lost wages and are pushing for government action to help support small and medium restaurant businesses. These organizations are also pushing for federal relief for the thousands of restaurant industry workers impacted by coronavirus, including paid sick leave and emergency pay for those who continue to work in potentially contaminated conditions. 

Buy gift cards

Help sustain your favorite local and sustainable shuttered restaurants and food shops by purchasing gift cards for future use. Websites like Give Local and Local for Later have compiled lists of restaurants nationwide that are promoting the sale of gift cards while their establishments are closed down. Many establishments are also selling merchandise online to help bring in some much-needed income.

Chip into a virtual tip jar

Some restaurants are asking for direct donations from customers and their communities through online fundraisers on platforms like GoFundMe, or have set up virtual tip jars, lists of staff members that customers can directly donate to through online payment methods such as Venmo or Paypal, to help provide for the restaurant and their employees.

Support Organizations Fighting for the Food Issues You Care About

Donating time, money and/or advocacy support to an organization that is working on relief and various aid projects to combat the impacts of the coronavirus can help immensely while keeping you and others healthy and protected at home.

Help farmers

Nonprofits like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Farmers’ Market Coalition and American Farmland Trust are working to provide relief to family farmers through aid programs and community-based efforts to invest in local produce, as well as advocating for farmers to be included in federal stimulus and relief packages.

Stand up for the health and safety of food laborers

Food and farm laborers often face difficult, unsafe working conditions, but they are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, working every day to make sure our food supply chain holds up while the majority of Americans stay home. The Food Chain Workers Alliance continues its mission to protect these workers and guarantee fair, safe working conditions and proper pay, as well as support workers facing job and wage loss.

Support farm to school programs

With schools closed around the country, vital farm to school programs, which help teach children about the importance of healthy fresh food and provide this food to many food-insecure communities, have been put on pause. The National Farm to School Network and FoodCorps have put together various resources to help farm to school programs, and both organizations are advocating for continued school lunch programming and extended SNAP benefits to aid the families most affected.

Give to food banks

The already overtaxed food pantry and shelter systems are facing more demand than ever. If possible, donate money instead of food, which allows the programs to purchase the exact items they need. Feeding America is a national network of food banks, pantries and meal programs; make donations directly to national programs like this, or use their directory to find local programs. And if you’re purchasing groceries online, many services have the option to donate meals to those in need, which makes stocking up and giving just a click away.

Help protect public food safety 

Just like in the private sector, many government activities are being limited to those that are “mission-critical” due to COVID-19 concerns. As of writing, the FDA has temporarily suspended routine surveillance inspections of food manufacturers and handlers. Food safety advocates fear this could just be the first food safety measure to fall by the wayside as regulations relax with smaller staff and less oversight, putting an already stressed system under more pressure. Stay informed by keeping up with watchdog organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Center for Food Safety, which help keep an eye on food safety issues like this and advocate for the safety of our health system.

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