( Courtesy USDA )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is hosting web seminars every third Monday of the month on how local food systems can respond to needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Building Better Beyond” series features hour-long discussions on local food and COVID-19, from consumer behavior to cooperative business models and state policies, according to a news release from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The first web seminar in the series is at 1 p.m. Eastern Oct. 19, on “Marketing Innovations When Communities Eat at Home.”

Local food systems leaders will discuss how the pandemic forced change, from shifting to a consumer-direct model to further processing and packaging. Representatives from the National Farm to School Network, the Wallace Center and the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network are scheduled to participate.

Registration for the monthly seminars is online.

Topics for the monthly seminars are:

  • Nov. 16: Retaining and engaging new local customers: Tensions and opportunities;
  • Dec. 21: Emergency food, charity and the local food system;
  • Jan. 25: Innovations in state policy and implications for local and regional food sectors;
  • Feb. 15: Formal and informal cooperative development to support local and regional food systems;
  • March 15: Online platforms: Pivots and planning for the future;
  • April 19: Integrating national consumer survey results into future planning; and
  • May 17: Next steps to support the local food system in times of uncertain consumer behavior.