Coronavirus: How Will The Virus Affect Grocery Shelves?

As the coronavirus continues to disrupt supply chains and forces workers to stay home we’re just now coming to realize what this means for our economy and how it might disrupt our daily lives. One of those supply chains will be the food and produce on the shelves at our grocery stores.

As TIME reportedAmerican produce growers preparing to harvest crops are warning of a devastating impact on fruit and vegetables after the U.S. Embassy in Mexico announced a halt to visa interviews for seasonal farmworkers. Slaughterhouses also may face labor shortages. And even if these visa restrictions weren’t in place, there are certainly human health and safety concerns to consider to keep farmworkers from contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

We’re also seeing the demand-side effects for small local farmers who supply restaurants in major cities.

But large grocery chains say they aren’t worried and as Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said, “And as long as customers just buy what they need and don’t hoard, there will be no problems at all – there’s plenty of food in the supply chain.

Why This Matters: The threat of food shortages and empty shelves in the supermarkets are a reminder that we should only buy what we need. There’s no need to hoard and in fact, this can lead to food waste–all at a time when many are facing increased food insecurity.

FYI: Did you know that you can plant some of the herbs you buy at the grocery store and grow them on your window sill or in your back yard.

Go Deeper: As many of us wait for toilet paper to come back on store shelves, make sure that you’re not using and flushing paper towels instead.

What You Can Do: Here’s how to help food banks during the coronavirus crisis.

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