Like many of you, Petaluma Bounty’s work has morphed to respond to our new reality. Yet, our mission remains as critical and relevant as it did 5 months or 15 years ago. As a farm-based, community food security organization, Bounty holds a systems-level perspective that includes small farmers, local food advocates, and low-income consumers, with the shared goal of increasing access to healthy food for everyone. For more information on our core values, click here.
While food access and economic inequities are always present, the dual effects of the COVID-19 public health and financial crisis are explicitly exacerbated for society’s most vulnerable populations: low-wage, hourly, and gig workers, small business owners and small farmers, farmworkers, people on CalFresh, people who are undocumented, elderly folks, people with disabilities, and anybody getting by paycheck to paycheck– recognizing that these identities do not exist in vacuums or binaries, and often overlap to create even more challenging circumstances for people who are already struggling.
As we continue to push for the support of local, small businesses and farmers’ markets, we also recognize that the people working these operations are at particular risk to contract the virus, but are in a bind as they also need to continue working in order to make a living. Furthermore, our communities rely on them to provide food and other necessities. This is a complicated dynamic often not immediately considered but necessary to discuss when thinking of ways to inclusively support our local economy.
Like most things, COVID-19 does not affect all populations equally, so while we do our best to ensure the health and safety of ourselves and our families, we must also re-center the principles of community like inclusivity, service, trust, and dignity for all of our neighbors whom we know and those we have yet to meet.
Since early March, Petaluma Bounty has focused on the following priorities:
- Be a resource for food-based information to our community by increasing awareness, utilization, and support of local, state, and federal food aid programs.
- Bounty staff updated and expanded our bilingual Food Resource Guide with a comprehensive place-based emphasis on Southern Sonoma County during COVID-19. We have also offered the content and templates to agencies including Sonoma County Emergency Operations Center, Office of Recovery & Resiliency other communities and agencies.
- Promote other emergency food providers’ work and need for support during these unprecedented times.
- Coordinate and support constructive coalition conversations with an emphasis on systems dynamics and interdependencies. For more information on our core values, click here.
- Implemented a coordinated campaign for CalFresh Awareness Month and provide comprehensive background information through a blog series (CalFresh Awareness Month, What is CalFresh, CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets, What Farmers’ Markets are doing for safety).
- Co-hosted a webinar with Sonoma County UC Cooperative Extension titled “Connecting Across the Food System for COVID-19 Emergency Food Response.”
- Advocate for programs and policies that benefit the local food system alongside emergency food aid in the following coalitions- Sonoma County Food System Alliance, Sonoma County COAD (Community Organizations Active in Distaster), Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition, CalFresh Outreach Working Group, CDFA Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee.
- Ongoing and COVID-19 specific support to community-powered emergency food providers in our area. For more information on this effort, see this Prezi on the Regional Food Coordinator model.
- Directing donations of food and resources to our allies distributing food to those that are in need.
- Survey local pantries and champion their needs.
- Advocate for and expand reach of CalFresh/SNAP and nutrition incentive programs that benefit low-income consumers and small scale farmers.
- Create and update farmers’ market safety policies for Farmers’ Market LIFE members.
- Represent market managers and local farmers at CDFA meetings and Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee.
- CalFresh Awareness Month Campaign
- Sponsor-A-Box fundraising initiative to provide nutrition incentives for CalFresh users who want to join a local CSA (weekly farm box subscription).
- Encourage community members to grow their own food through our annual plant sale. See the following blog post for impact.
- Transition the plant sale to an online platform with admittedly mixed rate of success.
- Host Petaluma Garden Club plant sale on-site.
- Donating extra starts to food-insecure community members, community food efforts, and local gardeners.
Soon, we will share a series of blogs of how each of our 3.5 staff members roles and work plans have evolved and expanded in this new context. In the mean time, here are a few things that you can do to support our farm-based community food security project:
- Donate either to our general fund or to the Sponsor-A-Box initiative!
- Upgrade your sharing ethic and donate your extra produce to our local food pantries and service providers!
- Volunteer with us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out a form.
- Check out our wishlist and send over any tools and equipment you may have that’s in good working order.
Thank you for your continued partnership to make our local food system work better for all stakeholders!
Suzi, Reyna, Harlie, and Summer