20 Mar – 3.20.2020 Resources and Updates regarding COVID-19
Never before has it been so evident that a resilient, local food system is key to our community’s health.
Across the board, barriers to food access have increased over the past week, especially for vulnerable people in our community. Stores have struggled to keep up with demand, public transportation is limited, safety net programs like school meals and food pantries are adjusting to new ways of delivering services.
Under normal circumstances, 1 in 3 Gorge residents suffer from food insecurity. Rates of hunger and malnutrition are increasing rapidly as more people face financial instability.
Over 50% of workers in the Columbia River Gorge are employed in the service sector, in retail sales, foodservice, and lodging; and many of them have been laid off from work this week as stores, restaurants, bars, and hotels have closed their doors. Farmworkers are especially vulnerable: many have no paid sick leave, no health insurance, and pre-existing conditions due to food insecurity, exposure to dust and chemicals.
What is Gorge Grown doing to address this?
Farmers Markets: We aim to get our outdoor Farmers Markets up and running as soon as possible. Open-air markets with vendors spaced out provide key access to local food and relieve stress on grocery stores. High quality, nutrient dense food is more important than ever for our immune systems and mental health.
Call to Action: We are supporting schools and food banks recruiting volunteers to help with food distribution. Look for opportunities below.
Veggie Rx: We are delivering Veggie Rx boxes to food insecure patients outside The Dalles One Community Health Clinic. Social distancing enables clients to safely pick up fresh produce. In Hood River, pregnant low-income women can use Veggie Rx vouchers to purchase fruit and vegetables from local farms.
What can you do?
- Check on your elderly neighbors. Consider shopping or cooking for someone you know at risk.
- Support your local farmer and supply chain. Many farms are ramping up online ordering and delivery. When you buy local, you reduce the number of hands touching your food, and you keep our local farms strong.
- It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. It is extremely unlikely that someone will catch it through eating.
- Plant a resilience garden. Now is the time to plant potatoes, greens and garlic. Even just some herbs in pots will make you feel more food secure and help cut down on trips to the store.
- Support local businesses by purchasing gift certificates. Keeping dollars in our local economy is critical at this time.
- Consider a donation to support our work to bolster food access and farms during this difficult time.
- Make a preparedness plan. It is recommended that you have a two-week supply of food on hand at all times.
- Share your story. We are seeking short essays on how COVID-19 has changed the way you eat.
- Join our Food Security Coalition. This group of 50+ organizations is working on building as equitable local food system based on solidarity and dignity.
Please reach out to us if you or anyone you know is in need of food assistance or farm/food business support at this time. We remain committed to our mission to build an inclusive, resilient food system that supports the health and well-being of our community.
Find more updates from our 3/20/2020 newsletter here.