Helping restaurants and processors stay open during pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic swelled across the nation, restaurants and food production plants were among the places thought to be causing the spread of the virus more rapidly. North Carolina State University Extension specialists turned out a team effort to help these food providers stay viable during a time when food shortages were prevalent.
NC State Extension provided food safety information for the food industry in multiple ways. Conducting more than 50 webinars, creating 130 information resources and participating in 300 media interviews, Extension specialists supplied the state and region’s food industry with vital information on how to protect the food supply, customers and employees.
Among the offerings, the “Count on Me” program that reached 250,000 food handlers with information on how to safely reopen retail food establishments. Other information resources covered grocery shopping, bulk meat sales, gardening, food banks, farmers markets and many other food industry related concerns. This information was vital to maintaining food security during a time of upheaval in the food supply chain.
It’s estimated these efforts and many more helped North Carolina’s $21.4 billion restaurant industry reopen safely, keeping some 500,000 people employed in the state.