Is local the new normal? We all are having a very long and very local moment. We’re at home when we can be and trying to distance when we can’t. We walk down empty streets and wave across them. We try to help our fellow citizens who have lost jobs, are missing meals, and we are working to prepare our health system for what is still to come. We buy what we can from our local farms.
In these extraordinary times, the strength of our local organizations, philanthropists, farmers and networks is quite literally saving our community. But when this crisis is over, what will we have learned and what will we hang on to?
Disasters can increase a community’s resilience, but doing so takes foresight. This pandemic is bringing attention both to our community’s deep relationship to food and to the issues of food insecurity that challenge those most at risk. We know that once the crisis passes, the need to tackle systemic issues will remain. In the current moment, as we all do our best to respond, our community can and should ask ourselves some essential questions:
- Will we use this moment to make deep investments in the organizations closest to the problems? These typically are best positioned to design and implement the most impactful solutions. Will we continue to support them after this crisis passes?
- Will we work to make sure that food equity – the ability for every citizen to feed themselves with healthy, affordable food – becomes the reality for all parts of our community?
- Will we support and elevate our local farmers in the short and long term? We may have taken them for granted in better times, but they have been the source of our nourishment and economic vitality. Will we go back to our old buying habits or continue our commitment to them?
- With the insight we’re gaining about the holes in our local system, will we think holistically about what we want to do now to build a better future?
Many organizations, networks, and food producers are on the front lines of fighting our current battle and thinking about the future. So take a moment, invest in what’s happening right here, right now, and when this over, don’t forget the local efforts that helped us through.