Food industry shutdown hurting local farmers and distribution businesses

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KEARNEY, Mo — The shutdown of the food industry is causing a major wave in other businesses that depend on it to survive.

With the bottom falling out of the restaurant industry, people in the food production and distribution business are getting creative, figuring out ways to stay afloat and get their food to consumers.

“Like everybody, we are terrified. Last week was scary to think about what was going to happen and where we were going to end up,” said Alicia Willingsworth with local farming cooperative KC Food Hub.

Local farmers and food producers feared where we are now. Schools closed, restaurants serving on a limited basis and corporate cafeterias not serving food. That huge hole is hurting farmers and folks who process foods.

“A large part of our business is restaurants and that’s 80% down just in a week. So, we are really just trying to get super creative and figure out a way how we are going to be able to weather the storm,” said Louis Fantasma from Paradise Meats in Trimble, MO. He processes and distributes meats for local farmers.

“In most cases they only raise for what we are going to buy, so if we all of a sudden stop buying they have animals on the farm that are ready to go and they depend on us to get those animals to market,” Fantasma said. “And if we’re not able to do that then they are going to suffer.”

Other businesses that provide meals to consumers are stepping up to bridge that gap.

“We consider each one of the vendors as part of the Shatto family and that’s how we treat all of our vendors,” said Scott Smith with Shatto Home Delivery. “Whatever we can do to help you out we know that you guys would do the same for us.”

The Shatto milk man delivers more than milk. Shatto also has a home delivery meal service which usually serves 200 to 300 customers a week. Orders now doubled to around 600 and climbing.

“We’re really depending upon and leaning on them to kind of ramp up their sales and counterbalance the loss of sales in the restaurants,” Fantasma said

Just this week, Shatto increased its order of eggs from 1200 dozen to 2200 dozen. While Shatto is doing its part to help, this one company can not do it all.  Those in the food production industry hoping other companies and consumers will also step up to support local farmers through the COVID-19 crisis.

For more information about how you can buy local at home, check out these resources:

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