COVID-19 Updates from CISA
The spread of COVID-19 has brought a lot of fear and uncertainty to our communities. We’ve been hearing from farmers and other local business owners about how the coronavirus epidemic is interrupting sales, bringing worry about how that will affect their businesses, and causing concern about how to keep customers and employees healthy and supported. CISA’s staff has been working on identifying how we can support local farms, restaurants, retailers, and others in weathering the necessary interruptions that the response to COVID-19 is bringing, and talking with state officials and partner organizations about how we can work together.
This is a crisis that invites us to consider the needs of our neighbors and our communities as a whole. Social distancing, the cancellation of public events, and institutions and workplaces going remote are acts of community solidarity that protect the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom are not able to take self-protective measures themselves. In that spirit, and if you are able, consider how you can approach this crisis with a spirit of generosity and community benefit.
How can you help?
- If you’re running errands and buying groceries and goods, prioritize supporting local farms and businesses more than ever. They need your support.
- We are keeping a list of new sales outlets for local food (including online ordering and new delivery sites) and closures.
- You can find general information about local farms and food in CISA’s online guide, including winter farmers’ markets, year-round farm stands, and more.
- Looking for HIP outlets? Find an up-to-date list of places to earn your HIP benefit on the HIP—Pioneer Valley Facebook page.
- Donate to CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund: we will be opening the fund to offer zero-interest loans to farms affected by COVID-19 in April.
- Tip service workers generously.
- Cash flow is an issue for local businesses when sales are interrupted. Are you in a position to help? If you’re thinking of signing up for a summer farm share, now is the time. Consider buying gift cards at restaurants, farm stands, and other local businesses to provide them with needed income now, and use them when things have normalized.
- The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Survival Centers, and other agencies that serve hungry people need support now too. If you are able, donate and volunteer your time.
Farmers and other business owners:
We want to hear from you! How is this affecting you, your employees, your sales? What sort of support do you need? Are you making changes to your business that we can help promote? Please get in touch with email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office at 413-665-7100. Staff is working remotely but will receive phone messages.
CISA’s office is closed to the public and staff will be working remotely beginning 3/16/20. Staff is available by email and will be checking voicemail remotely.
The CISA Annual Meeting, originally scheduled for April 16th, has been postponed and the new date has yet to be determined. All upcoming CISA workshops, meet and greets, and networking events have been cancelled or postponed. Check here for updates.