A little over a year ago, Texas began to shut down as we entered the first round of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. National supply chains were interrupted, and items such as beef and flour were hard to find. Rising levels of unemployment led many people to experience food insecurity for the first time. These events highlighted the role a strong local food system plays in keeping our community nourished.
Fast-forward one year to February 2021: Winter Storm Uri — marked by record-breaking freezing temperatures, snow, and ice — clobbered Texas, which is still deep in the pandemic. At the peak of the storm, some 4.5 million Texas homes and businesses did not have electricity, and more were also without running water. Weeks after the storm passed, some were (and remain) without access to basic resources like hot running water due to shortages of parts for repairs and infrastructure failures.
Uri hit many Central Texas farmers and ranchers particularly hard. Many lost access to power and water, which caused them to lose both crops and livestock, with estimates exceeding $600 million in losses. According to the 2017 Ag Census, there are 248,416 farms in the 22 counties in the Central Texas region. While some farms were struggling to keep livestock alive without power, others were scrambling to move transplants indoors, while also triple-covering crops and seedlings.
The storm once again crippled our supply chain, leaving grocery store shelves empty and countless Texans with limited access to healthy food. But the storm did not slow down SFC’s Farmers’ Markets. By the end of the wintery week, the snow began to melt, and our community came out to shop from local farmers to meet their essential needs.
When these disasters happened, our community came together in support of each other. Individuals turned to local farmers to keep their families fed, and our farmers worked tirelessly to ensure they could provide this critical support. We also saw many organizations and businesses rally together to provide support in innovative ways. We’re highlighting a few ways our community came together when we needed it the most.