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COVID-19 and the Slow Food Community

The worldwide situation has changed completely over the last couple of weeks and we now face one of the biggest global crises of the last 70 years due to COVID-19. Many Slow Food leaders, staff and folks in the network have been personally affected overnight. To respond to a global virus, I want to think — with you — about how we can come together as a global community:

What are the needs you see in your community? Slow Food — local and national — is here to help. 

We asked Paolo Di Croce (Slow Food International secretary general), Slow Food staffers, and local chapters to share their experiences — keep reading to read their stories. We also want to hear what you are doing in your community. Share your story with us.

The Slow Food USA community

Slow Food USA is launching Slow Food Live on Monday, March 23 — free, online sessions to share skills and stories, like how to make pizza or start seeds for your garden, led by experts in our network. We want to offer something to our community that enables everyone to access and engage in all things Slow Food. We’re also compiling resource guides for small businesses, farmers, families and hospitality industries. More to come on that.

Slow Food USA is activating its wide grassroots network to aggregate all the ingenious ways local communities are organizing. This Slow Food Mutual Aid database is a location specific listing of community innovation and resources– crowdsourced from everyone and curated by Slow Food Chapters and Leaders. 

Slow Food Dallas Fort Worth is responding to the largest DFW farmers’ market cancelling this week and promoting cottage businesses that are able to sell food from their front porches. They are following the social media feeds of farmers and producers to learn how they can help from afar.

Slow Food Upstate (SC) is sharing posts from community members reminding people to patronize local businesses, even if that simply means purchasing a gift certificate to use when things calm down.

Slow Food Vermont is exploring ways to get food from local farmers to the people who need it most in their community.

Slow Food DC is sharing updates from the city, bars, restaurants, and food access organizations so the community can learn how to stay safe and informed. We are highlighting school closures and updates on where students can get meals. “One thing we are really pushing on – that I’d love to see others join in on – is patronizing farmers markets. Farmers need our support now more than ever. Local food has a shorter and typically safer supply chain than what you get at [large retailers].”

Articles with thoughtful information on how the pandemic affects the food sector, the hungry and communities:

Calls to Action

The International Slow Food community & OUR HQ TEAM IN ITALY

Elisa Virgillito, Slow Food, Press Office, Italy

The schools have been closed since February 20th and my children, 6 and 4 years old, will not be able to see their friends for another three weeks. We are passing our days indoors and the only possible social time is between family members. Inevitably, there are frequent moments when stress and worrying about the future, alongside boredom, constant demands, non-stop engagement — no matter how beautiful — makes the tension high. So we are inventing games, drawing a lot and chasing away our anxieties by transforming into superheroes who defeat the virus and free the world from its oppression. We are following school lessons with teachers online, so as not to lose the reading and writing skills acquired so far. The only possible place is to expend our energies, for those of us lucky enough to have one, are the garden and the backyard. We will overcome this moment and be even stronger, my childrens’ eyes tell me this and the many messages from the Slow Food network all over the world, are assurance that  #andràtuttobene. 

Eleonora Giannini, Slow Food, Digital and campaigns, Italy 

In Italy, April 3 is the date that schools will reopen and, hopefully, return to normal. It is also the date my baby should be born. I’ve been stuck in my house for a week, without being able to see anyone. Hospitals are closed—closed. Only certain people can enter visits are not guaranteed for pregnant women. We are living in uncertainty, concerned that care and doctors will not be able to guarantee assistance to those who are not affected by COVID-19. Because today the real emergency is that. Social contact is prohibited, human contact is difficult, departments have closed their doors, visits are not allowed, and in some labor and delivery facilities, the presence of a family member is only allowed in the delivery room. Continuing to work for Slow Food, on the programs and projects of the movement, is what gives me hope that, tomorrow, #andràtuttobene and that we will be able to build a better world, especially for my little girl.

Jorrit Kiewik, Slow Food Youth Network, SFYN Global Office, The Netherlands

I arrived in Italy one month ago to connect with the team in the SFYN Global Office at the Slow Food HQ here. Four weeks later, things have changed. I have no clue when we will be able to get back to the office, or back to the Netherlands. The lockdown in Italy made clear to me that the work we do is highly valuable. I wonder how countries can still make the same mistake as we all did when seeing COVID-19 develop in Wuhan, China. Only healthcare and food distribution is allowed to continue at this time, as they are the true necessities in life. Slow Food—our worldwide movement—must keep supporting our producer communities, from our plates to local markets. This is the moment that we need each other, in order to continue doing so.

Anna Kanshieva, Slow Food, Area Coordinator for Asia & Europe

On February 23rd, we were in the middle of a Slow Food project in Azerbaijan — activites were underway, flights were purchased, venues booked, and menus confirmed to launch the first ever Slow Food Alliance in Caucasus. And then COVID-19 arrived in Italy. Flights were cancelled, venue un-booked and event postponed. Just 2 weeks have passed. Today, instead of returning tired and happy from Baku with the mission completed, farmers trained, producers supported and cooks inspired, my colleagues and I are locked at home. This is a very fragile moment for Italy and Slow Food, but we’ve received encouraging and heartfelt support from the Slow Food network elsewhere. This proves again that the seeds of love and good will that you spread will return to you with good fruit. And this experience makes me sure that #andràtuttobene and we will get back to life — flights re-booked, venues re-arranged and menus re-confirmed.

Slow Food Alliance Chefs and Pizzaioli in Lombardy, Italy

We are a group of pizzaioli and chefs from Lombardy, the Italian region most affected by Covid-19, united by our membership in the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance. Many of us decided to close our businesses well before the ministerial decrees. We don’t know how it will go, we don’t know how it will evolve, or in what time. But we do know that we must stay at home, because we have responsibility to our customers, our producers, our environment, the community, and the Earth! The closure of bars, restaurants and pizzerias represents a painful but courageous renunciation, and is a difficult sacrifice for employees and suppliers. Just as today we are motivated to face the challenge, we will be even more motivated to get back to work; the “good, clean and fair” cooks cannot stay at home forever!