Helping Buyers and Sellers Connect During COVID-19 Disruptions to Florida Food Markets
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to Florida food markets. Sales of food products to restaurants and schools have fallen drastically. Some farmers markets have closed. Sales through grocery stores spiked upward initially, but recent limits on the number of shoppers have dampened demand at stores. Online food sales and home delivery have increased. Consumers are changing purchasing patterns, and farmers and distributors who lost markets are trying to adapt. More farmers are trying to sell online. Wholesale distributors are selling produce boxes directly to consumers. Drive-through farmers markets have opened.
Helping Buyers and Sellers Connect
Various initiatives have been launched in Florida to help sellers and buyers connect under these new circumstances. Some efforts focus on the availability of individual products. Other efforts provide lists or directories of places where consumers can buy local food, beyond the grocery store.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) created an Agricultural and Seafood Availability Notice form to collect information on available products. Product suppliers can submit individual commodities they have available, and FDACS is posting the information on their Florida Farm to You website.
Hillsborough County Extension is creating a surplus produce directory for that part of the state. Hillsborough-area produce sellers can fill out an online Surplus Produce form and list individual products available.
Directories of Local Food Sellers
The FDACS Fresh From Florida program has a website listing various types of markets and suppliers of Florida agricultural products.
Kalan Royal and the Florida Farm Bureau put together a comprehensive list of farms and farm stands across the state offering #FreshfromFlorida fruits and vegetables to consumers.
The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFV&A) has a website to help publicize Florida farms selling produce directly to consumers. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to their site.
Edible Northeast Florida provides a map with direct-to-consumer farms and food markets in northeast Florida. Edible South Florida lists places to buy fresh, local produce in southeast Florida. Transition Sarasota provides a list of direct-to-consumer farms and online and drive-through markets in the Sarasota area.
Feeding Florida created a map and directory of Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) markets currently operating. The FAB program provides discounts (doubles your money) on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchases of Florida-grown produce. Feeding Florida also provides a directory of food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
These and other initiatives are trying to help Florida sellers and buyers connect and adapt to food market disruptions.