NAMA & COVID-19 – A Message To Our Community

Dear friends,

These are scary times causing a great deal of anxiety for many. The news about the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus continues, and in many ways feels like it is just the beginning. The lessons from northern Italy indicate that to slow the spread of the virus, we should be practicing social distancing now – meaning limiting physical contact, especially when it comes to being in large crowds. At NAMA, we are lucky that all staff can work from home and have heeded the health experts by canceling all our travel plans for the foreseeable future. We know this is a privilege. Fishermen, farmers, ranchers, food workers, and many more don’t have this luxury and it’s causing an unprecedented level of anxiety and hardship for them.

Yes, events and travel plans are being canceled by the minute. We are limiting contact with people and taking precautions when we are near each other. If you haven’t read about why this is so critical, there are some helpful resources at the end of this post. Please feel free to share widely with your communities.

Keeping our physical distance by no means suggests limiting human contact in other ways and most importantly doesn’t suggest we stop being humane with each other. In my neighborhood, texts are being sent when someone is going to the store to see who else needs something to be picked up. When we see each other on the trails walking our dogs, we spend a little more time talking and catching up than we would have just a week ago. Not losing connectivity is critical right now. We know rural communities have been feeling isolated for a long time already and our urban counterparts are now getting a glimpse into that social isolation. As a result many people are feeling a lot of anxiety. Please check in by phone, text, or email on friends and family, particularly those who are elderly or immune-compromised.

We are also learning that these times are making many people slow down and appreciate the close community and resources they have around them. Their family, neighbors, pets, reading, the outdoors… these relationships are therapeutic and they are taking advantage of this time to enrich them. I was just reading about people in Wuhan, China and Italy singing together out of their windows to raise each others’ spirits. In many ways these are anxious times. In many ways these can be times to get back in touch with our humanity and each other without having to touch each other.

In terms of the food system, these are the times that our collective call for relocalizing our food system becomes even more important. Without ignoring the real pain and loss many are experiencing, how can we lift up the need to raise, grow, and catch our food in ways that are closer to our communities and enriches all of us.

Leah Douglas wrote in FERN on Thursday about the potential impact of the virus on our food supply chain. The House of Representatives voted Friday on an emergency relief package, which would allow for working people to have access to paid leave (if they become infected or are required to take care of someone who is infected), free coronavirus testing (even for folks who are uninsured), and expanding unemployment insurance and food security programs.

NAMA wishes all of you good health and patience for the coming weeks. Please take care of yourselves and your community in these uncertain times and know that we are thinking of you and are here as a resource should you need us.

In solidarity,

Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director