The coronavirus pandemic has created a significant disruption in the food supply chain across the country.
A massive spike in unemployment has resulted in increased food insecurity throughout the nation as well. Detroit Today’s Stephen Henderson looks at how the current distribution system, rocked by the closure of the restaurant industry, be re-purposed to serve those in need of food.
Listen: How COVID-19 Created a Gap between Food Suppliers and Distributors
Laura Reiley, the business of food reporter for the Washington Post, says there is a huge disconnect right now in food that would’ve gone to food service.
Foods packaged for restaurants are difficult to repackage for grocery stores or individuals.
“There are mountains of Idaho potatoes that aren’t being used now,” Reiley says of food items typically used in restaurants. The government stepped in last week, supporting farmers with direct payments and purchasing $3 million in products to be supplied to food banks. However, the issue of food transportation remains. Reiley says that refrigeration and repurposing product is a costly and cumbersome process for many suppliers.
Three thousand temporary food sites have been set up across the state to meet demand.
Most of the surge “is from people who don’t usually go to food banks,” says Aguilar. He adds that just as the need for food is skyrocketing, donations from local and chain grocery stores are falling. A lot of things are coming at once for food banks says Aguilar.
“It happened so suddenly that people didn’t have time to prepare,” Brisson says. “A lot of families that were making ends meet and were doing okay suddenly had all these extra meals to make up.”
Gleaners has been coordinating with various groups and institutions across the state to make sure the increased need brought on by COVID-19 is met.
“Thus far, we’ve been able to get the food at each of our distributions. But we do need to stay on top of this pretty regularly to get what we need and the community gets what they need,” says Brisson.