Posts Tagged: COVID-19
Theories abound as to what life will be like when we come out of our current predicament. And who can say?
However, the focus for many is simply on dealing with the immediate. What can I eat? How do I visit the supermarket safely? Can I drink the water? I want to get outdoors, but is it safe? Can I garden? If so, how? How can I provide my kids meaningful engagement? What resources are available for the agriculture industry? How do I cope?
In response to these pressing needs, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, like many other universities and extension organizations across the country, are moving quickly to get more information online. While I haven't seen the actual numbers, we know millions of students (both high school and university) are quickly transitioning to online classes.
In addition, millions are seeking information on topics from agriculture and food to gardening to nutrition to wellness. The activity behind the scenes is at times frantic. We at UC ANR already have large amounts of credible, practical “how to” information online, but we know we can provide more. Our 12 statewide programs and institutes (links below), along with our network of advisors and specialists, are moving quickly to enhance out virtual connections and getting more useful information online - videos, fact sheets, courses, etc. - to ensure our outreach continues. For example, the UC California Naturalist program already had its first virtual graduation. Advisors are providing virtual consultations to farmers and others.
Do you need help navigating life during the coronavirus crisis? Explore our portal - ucanr.edu/covid19communityresources - to find information on gardening, safe outdoor exploration, food access, water and food safety, nutrition, wellness and more.
Learn about our statewide programs:
UC Integrated Pest Management Program (how to manage pests)
Nutrition, food, water and wellness
Enjoying the outdoors
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Panic-buying groceries and hoarding food in homes is impacting the U.S. supply chain and putting a strain on low-income families who don't have the financial ability to spend hundreds of dollars on groceries at once, reported Ganda Suthivarakom in the New York Times.
“That is probably about half of us, especially during this time when many of us are not working or can't work, with limited incomes or no incomes coming in,” said Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Nutrition Policy Institute. “The last thing a family in that situation can do is go out and spend $500 on groceries.”
The Times article suggests consumers think about others when they shop, use food they already have in their freezers and pantries, and help people who can't afford to stockpile.
“The food banks, your local food pantry, are experiencing shortages of people to work and put packages of food together. Often that can happen in a safe way with social distancing,” Ritchie said.
If some grocery store shelves are empty, it doesn't mean the U.S. food supply is endangered, reported Ezra David Romero on the Capitol Public Radio website.
“Agriculture is resilient to shocks,” said Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, a UC ANR program. “Consumers can be confident that the food is safe and plentiful. That doesn't mean every product is going to be there all the time.”
But as the pandemic lingers, some products could be harder to find if they're from a part of the world hard hit by COVID-19, Sumner said. As demand is down for certain goods, it could mean “somewhat lower prices. But I expect it will be relatively modest for food. What I mean by that is we're going to continue to eat.”
The article recommends against hoarding and assures that there will be a sufficient supply of food in stores and restaurants.
“You don't need to over buy; it's important to know that our supply chain is safe and plentiful,” said Ron Fong, with the California Grocers Association.
Romero also spoke with UC Cooperative Extension field crops and pest management advisor Rachael Long. She said it's fairly easy for farmers and workers to follow social distance rules, in part because of mechanization.
“You've got a ton of equipment, so it's not like there's a ton of people out there working together on growing the crops,” Long said. “You've got tractors and cultivators that are doing a lot of this work right now.”
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is available to assist Californians across the state during the new coronavirus crisis. We are working differently, but we are still working to help residents improve their lives and businesses with resources on growing food in a garden, preserving food, entertaining kids with educational activities and many other useful topics at ucanr.edu.
We are finding opportunities to make life easier for communities. For example, in Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension developed an online Food Distribution Directory with CropMobster. “By changing our relationship to food waste, we can use excess, high quality food to feed people in need,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension director for Sonoma County. For more information visit https://maps.cropmobster.com/food-distribution-directory/ and https://ucanr.edu/sites/SCRFC.
UC ANR Climate Smart Agriculture Community Education Specialists are assisting growers in applying for cost-share funds from CDFA's Climate Smart Agriculture programs, helping with filing paperwork with CDFA and implementing the cost-shared Climate Smart Agriculture practices. All of our technical assistance providers are currently working remotely and available via email, telephone, Zoom and other virtual communications technologies.
The University of California is vigilantly monitoring and responding to new information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has been declared a global health emergency. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources employees are working remotely during their normal business hours and performing essential duties (such as feeding animals), protective measures that align with COVID-19 guidance from public health officials and the UC Office of the President. This status will be in effect through April 7, 2020, and may be extended.
We are also mindful of official guidance concerning social distancing; all in-person events will be canceled, postponed or conducted by Zoom through April 7 or until the guidance is modified. This includes all volunteer-led youth or adult programming, meetings or gatherings. Visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/PSU/ or contact your local UC Cooperative Extension office for information on event status.
Again, we are working and available. UC ANR is maintaining critical research projects and delivering programs online. We are exploring innovative ways to connect with the public using technology and working with our partners. UC ANR employees can be reached as normal through email or Zoom video conferencing.
Useful information is available at the following links.
- 4-H Youth Development Program
- Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
- UC Master Food Preserver Program
- UC Master Gardener Program
Find your local UC Cooperative Extension office contact information here.
Additional information from our programs may be found at:
- Agricultural Issues Center
- California Institute for Water Resources
- California Naturalist Program
- CalFresh Healthy Living, UC
- Informatics and GIS Program
- Nutrition Policy Institute
- Research and Extension Center System
- Research and Information Centers
- Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM)
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP)
We also encourage members of the public to subscribe to our YouTube channels and follow our social media platforms:
- UC ANR (English)
- UC ANR (Spanish)
- Master Gardener Program
- Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM)
We look forward to seeing you online for the present time. What else can we do to help you? Send your suggestions to UC ANR Strategic Communications.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources professionals are working and available. (Photo: Pixabay)