The suspension of classes during the pandemic prevention has affected the normal delivery of organic produce for contracted school lunches. Therefore, agencies, businesses and general consumers in the greater Hsinchu area are called to respond to the local product sales promotion of the Time-Limited Hsinchu County Local Organic Produce Box.
With the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Epidemic Command Center decided on May 18 to suspend all levels of schools and public and private kindergartens across the country from May 19 to May 28 (a total of 8 days of classes), to ensure the health of teachers and students and reduce the risk of cluster infections. With the sudden suspension of classes, growers of organic produce for elementary and junior high schools in Hsinchu County were instantly plunged into the crisis of having no outlet for their produce. Since September 2019, Hsinchu County has officially promoted the use of local organic produce twice a week for school lunches in the 120 elementary schools and junior high schools under its jurisdiction. The Hsinchu County Farmers’ Association, which is counseled by the Hsinchu County Government, is the supply platform for local organic produce and assists farmers with production scheduling, shipping, and marketing. The current weekly supply is about 9 metric tons, and the suspension of classes has impacted about 15 metric tons of organic produce.
The Agricultural Department stated that the types and specifications of the organic leafy vegetables used in the school lunches are rarely seen in the market. The production cost for organic produce is higher than that of general produce. In addition to its independent channels, the production model for organic produce is based on contracted supply for school lunches. The organic produce originally set for supply to school lunches from May 19 were already planted in the last month as scheduled. Based on the schedule, they must be harvested daily for supply. If the produce is not harvested and shipped in order, it will result in subsequent production chaos. In the end, farmers would have to bear the pain of ploughing them and absorbing the loss.
To help farmers through the crisis of interrupted organic produce supply for school lunches due to the suspension of classes, the Hsinchu County Government promptly acted upon receiving the class suspension notification. Together with the Hsinchu County Farmers’ Association, which serves as the county's local organic produce supply platform for school lunches, it actively planned multiple local consumption of local produce models to assist farmers through sales difficulties. In addition, the Hsinchu County Farmers’ Association also organized farmers in the platform who supply local organic produce for school lunches in the county to launch the Time-Limited Hsinchu County Local Organic Produce Box to promote sales. Agencies, businesses and general consumers in the greater Hsinchu area were called to respond to the local consumption of local produce activity. Through this opportunity, the public can taste the delicious freshness of safely grown and harvested local organic produce during the stay-at-home lockdown and help farmers survive this crisis of interrupted sales channel.