Cultivating community resilience
How North Carolina’s food council is facilitating an effective response during COVID-19
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Local Food Council has strengthened its role as a cohesive and effective organization during a public-health crisis to share challenges, devise solutions, and build resilience across local food systems in North Carolina. The Council includes representatives from 21 organizations working across the state, as well as three representatives from regional local food councils. The Council’s response to the pandemic addressed three key areas of action: (1) Coordinate responses across multiple sectors; (2) Enhance collaboration across the food-supply chain; and (3) Facilitate data collection and public messaging. This paper describes the positive impacts the Council has had across North Carolina on consumers and producers of local food as a result of this collaborative network and long-established relationships across the state. Now, more than ever, the relationships and collaborative efforts of statewide organizations and partners are needed. The Council’s crisis response has been strong because of the long-standing relationships of its members and its ability to share resources quickly, allowing it to work toward coordinated responses. The work of the North Carolina Local Food Council can serve as a model for other states that have state-level local food councils or want to develop them. In addition, the Council’s work demonstrates how collaborations among statewide partners can foster resilience within local food systems, particularly during a public health crisis.
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