Many people had read about food deserts and food security before the coronavirus pandemic, but the last two months has revealed concerning brittleness in the food supply chain. We see reports on farmers destroying food they can’t store while food pantries are over-subscribed. What are the public and private sectors currently doing to ensure supply chains are safe? Who are the portions of the US population are at most risk? What should be the actions to provide food security for the most vulnerable populations? What could be the implications brought by COVID-19 for food security in the future?
You can revisit the conversation by watching the video. We have also summarized some highlighted questions and answers below. Please feel free to share this content with friends and colleagues.
Q: You used to run the national food stamp program. What do you think will happen to food prices over the next couple months during the pandemic?
It is clear that there will be some kind of spike in not only foods but in many goods and services simply because we are having to rebuild our economy almost from the ground up. If we simply take the food service industry, that has essentially had to shut down during the pandemic, there are going to be scores of restaurants that never come back. That is food capacity that our society is going to lose. We have not lost the capacity to produce. The challenge of the moment is market access issues for farmers.
Q: What is the reason for the challenge of market access issues for farmers?
The disruption to society of the pandemic is so profound, that it touches every aspect of our existence. If we aren’t smart and strategic about addressing all of those things when rebounding, it’s going to leave marks. What’s especially telling about this moment, is that it has exposed an underbelly of society. This is an opportunity to turn the spotlight on food insecurity so that it becomes a part of the rebuilding process.
Q: What is your advice to young leaders interested in public service? What are your reasons that someone should get involved in this work?
If you want to feel like the work you has done has added value to our society, I go to bed every evening comfortable with that thought. There has been no richer or more rewarding experience than to engage with somebody that has overcome darkness to become the captain of their own ship.
To learn more, please visit the Administration for Children & Families website here.