As worried shoppers buy in bulk, stress is mounting for retailers, warehouses and farms — which need more labor at the very time people are being told to stay at home, Erica Pandey and Joann Muller write.
- Why it matters: America isn't running out of food. But there's increasing strain on the supply chain as the workers who produce and deliver our groceries are sheltering at home, quarantined, or are (justifiably) too spooked to show up for work.
- "The supply chain used to flow very evenly, but when you have surges, it takes more people," says Brian Beattie, senior vice president of sales at Lineage Logistics, which runs a large network of cold storage facilities.
Farms are anticipating labor shortages as the State Department delays the processing of H-2A visa workers from Mexico.
- Truckers are finding it difficult to do their jobs as truck spots, restaurants and motels close their doors, The Wall Street Journal reports.
And as the virus continues to spread, these workers are often in high-risk scenarios, working in close quarters for long hours.
- Many food producers say they won't be able to operate at full capacity while practicing social distancing.
There are some efforts underway to assist food workers, but not enough, experts tell us.
- Three states — Minnesota, Vermont and Michigan — have classified grocery workers as "essential" workers, making them eligible for child care and other benefits alongside health care workers, law enforcement and first responders. Look for other states to follow suit.
- Food workers would be better protected with face masks, but even doctors can't get enough.
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