How to Help Heal the Food Chain From Your Couch (4/18/2020)

Feb 10, 2023 Emmeline Clein

During quarantine, it’s easy to feel powerless to help the small businesses that you used to patronize in daily life. We all have favorite restaurants, cafes and bars we miss, and many of the entrepreneurs behind them will struggle to reopen storefronts when all this is over while many of their employees are struggling to buy essentials in the meantime. In addition, many of the wholesalers and farmers that supply our favorite spots are losing business too. While the coronavirus has broken a lot of American food chains, there are ways you can help mend its holes from your couch. We pulled together four ways to support farmers, restaurateurs, food service workers, and wholesalers during this crisis. 

1. Buy Produce From A CSA

Community Supported Agriculture programs are a great way to support farmers in your region who have lost business during this crisis. Here’s how they work: you sign up to pay a monthly fee to a farm, and you periodically receive an assortment of fresh produce. In New York, the City Greenmarkets are partnering with the app Fellow Farmer so you can sign up online, pre pay, and coordinate contactless delivery. Modern Farmer published a list of CSAs in every state, which you can check out here. When you want to choose your own specific produce, OurHarvest allows you to shop from an online array of locally-sourced groceries, and OurHarvest will donate a meal to a local food pantry for every order over $25. 

2. Buy Ingredients From Restaurant Wholesalers

Companies that normally source niche, gourmet ingredients and sell directly to restaurants are hurting right now, with restaurants closed. During quarantine, you can buy restaurant-quality ingredients in bulk to cook with. Not only are you supporting a struggling business, but you also get access to the types of ingredients that are usually hard to find for a non-chef. In New York, two options offering home delivery right now are Baldor and Natoora.

3. Tip Your Out of Work Servers & Bartenders

Huge numbers of restaurateurs have created GoFundMe campaigns to support the staff they laid off or furloughed because of COVID. Use GoFundMe’s search function to look up your favorite closed restaurants, bars, and cafes to see if they’ve set one up, and you can donate directly to the people who used to work in your favorite spots. If a business hasn’t set one of these up, you can donate to one of the funds for out of work food workers – the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation’s Emergency COVID-19 Relief Fund is a great option.

4. Buy Gift Cards & Dining Bonds

See if your favorite places are selling gift cards online. Many are, and plan to put the money towards reopening in the future. Buy one now and start imagining your first restaurant meal post-quarantine. Hundreds of restaurants have also joined Dining Bonds, which is a program that sell gift cards at 25% off, so you are making an investment that pays off in free food. Check out participating restaurants here.

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