Empty shelves at the store? Extension webinar to focus on where to find food

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The novel coronavirus has changed many facets of everyday life, including how families shop for food. Many consumers are facing limited hours and product shortages at their neighborhood grocery stores and naturally are worried about the availability and safety of their food.

A Penn State Extension webinar planned for noon to 1 p.m. May 14 will address these concerns, as well as provide suggestions on alternative places and methods for sourcing food.

COVID-19 has created vulnerabilities and bottlenecks in the food supply chain, and consumers have questions about what is happening, noted Benjamin Bartley, an extension educator specializing in food systems and local food development.

“It can be confusing when consumers experience product shortages in the stores while hearing about dairies having to dump milk or vegetable producers plowing under a crop that is ready to harvest,” he said. “During this time of uncertainty, we want to reassure folks, answer their questions and highlight the various ways they can access food, including locally grown foods.”

Bartley, Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of marketing and local/regional food systems, and Brian Moyer, extension education program associate, will host the webinar. They will explain what is happening in the food supply chain, share tools and resources for how and where to buy food from Pennsylvania farmers, and discuss what local producers and markets are doing to operate safely during this pandemic.

“There are many ways to access local foods, and local farmers are adapting quickly to the new realities of serving the public during a pandemic,” Bartley said. “It’s important to highlight the state’s farmers markets, on-farm retail markets, community-supported agriculture and food businesses providing online sales and home delivery. Equally important are the emergency food relief options for families in need and how customers can use their federal food assistance benefits at these various outlets.”

For more information or to register for the free webinar, visit or call 877-345-0691.

Last Updated May 04, 2020