COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. The virus causes illness through respiratory transmission, not eating. There have been no reports that anyone has become sick from COVID-19 by eating food. COVID-19 transmission occurs when people are physically close to a person who has the virus. The virus is transferred from one person to another through droplets that are produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, or through close contact such as a handshake, hug or other physical types of greetings. COVID-19 can also transmit by touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching the mouth or eyes before washing the hands.
During this time of uncertainty, farmers and consumers have many questions regarding food safety and COVID-19. Yaohua “Betty” Feng, Purdue University assistant professor of food science, has compiled information from nationwide food safety experts on a central reference website. Consumers can find food safety best practices, including personal hygiene, grocery shopping recommendations and guidelines for farmers.
Food Access and Availability
- (October 12, 2020) USDA extends flexibilities to allow free meals to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year.
- Finding Meals While Schools are Closed: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched an online tool – the “Meals for Kids” Site Finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. This is the latest in a series of swift actions USDA has taken to keep children and low-income individuals fed during the ongoing health crisis. The “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The site finder currently lists more than 20,000 meal sites from 23 states, and more sites will be added as states submit data each week.
- USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced additional flexibilities and waivers that support states making it easier for children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities to get food during the COVID-19 national emergency and remove administrative roadblocks for the dedicated local staff who serve them. These changes are in line with USDA’s commitment to keep Americans safe, secure, and healthy during this national emergency and explore all options to keep kids fed during this unprecedented time.
Educational Materials for Adults
The University of Illinois FarmDoc team is offering a series of webinars to discuss the impact the coronavirus crisis agriculture and food.
Educational Materials for Children
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom has developed virtual Agriculture lessons and activities following a daily agriculture theme. These materials are designed for students ages Kindergarten through 8th Grade. Follow along on the IAITC blog or share with your followers from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.