‘It’s probably going to do us in’: With restaurants closed, Arizona’s farmers are in peril – By Priscilla Totiyapungprasert (Arizona Republic) / March 30 2020
Kate McClendon feels tired. She’s lost nine pounds in two weeks and can barely sleep. Her job is to provide food, but she doesn’t even know what’s in her own fridge.
Every morning she and her husband, Sean, immediately go through their messages. Among them are orders for Grab and Go produce boxes their farm McClendon’s Select began offering to keep the business going during the new coronavirus pandemic.
The new venture, while helpful, has also stretched their capacity. With schools closed, Kate has gotten her teenage son to help out.
The demand for the boxes is so high, they had to stop reservations temporarily. And while McClendon is grateful for the support, it won’t be enough to fill the hole left behind by restaurant closures.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order to close dine-in service at restaurants has affected not only the restaurants themselves but also the local farms and distributors that depend on them. Now farmers are scrambling against time to change their business model and find a way to survive.
“There’s only so much we can physically do,” McClendon said. “Unfortunately, filling restaurant orders, we thought that was so demanding before, but it was so much easier. That’s how we were set up.”