A collaborative approach to COVID-19 response
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems community-based food system initiatives
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has spent the past two decades developing local food systems to support communities and increase resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how existing structural inequities, primarily along racial lines, are exacerbated. It has also shown the value of community-based food systems work that helps communities network, sharing valuable resources and funding to respond to the ongoing crisis. In this article, we document how CEFS’ community-based food systems initiatives are responding to the pandemic. Some of CEFS programs are community-based, working with food policy councils, offering racial equity trainings, networking schools and early care and education sites, and supporting youth convenings and internships. Others are focused on production and supply chains for meat, seafood, and produce in order to develop stronger local food systems. Throughout the work of all of CEFS’ community-based food systems initiatives in response to the pandemic, we have learned that our past efforts have increased local food systems resilience. We also note the importance of flexible funders who allowed grant dollars to be reallocated to community partners to address urgent needs. We have found that online programming has increased participation and access to resources. Finally, we have been inspired by the creativity, flexibility, and adaptability of our community partners, and we are energized to continue to support them while also offering the resources we have developed to a broader audience.
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