Bakeries adjust to new marketplace during the pandemic

Whether people are staying home due to the COVID-19 coronavirus or due the summer heat, New Mexican bakeries are still selling their goods during the pandemic. The American food services sector has been facing decline since March due to businesses operating either at limited capacity or closing altogether, as well as a shrinking customer base while people eat at home more and eat at restaurants less. According a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the pandemic combined with stay-at-home orders in many states led to a 19.3 percent increase in spending at grocery stores and retail stores for eating at home in March 2020 over the year prior, as well as a 28.3 percent decrease in food-away-from-home spending in that same timeframe. Though grocery stores appear to be stocking up again on previously less accessible items like toilet paper and meat, food scarcity is still affecting bakeries across the country. 

Walking into a grocery store today, it may be commonplace to find smaller bags of flour packaged by hand from bulk bags in the baking section or some items missing altogether, like yeast or certain egg or flour products. Adrian Zavala, a manager at Busy B’s Bakery in Las Cruces, said the bakery has not experienced much difficulty finding ingredients since March.

Food service workers at risk in school meal programs

Since schools in New Mexico closed due to COVID-19 in March, food service workers across the state have continued serving meals to students in need, and their families. While the food helps feed hungry students, particularly those who no longer have access to free or reduced meal programs at schools, food service workers in these programs may be at greater risk of catching the virus. Two meal distribution sites within Gadsden Independent School District based in Chaparral, NM closed in May due to possible COVID-19 exposure. There were 236 cases of the virus reported as of June 1 in Chaparral, between Otero and Doña Ana Counties, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Two kitchens at North Valley and Vado Elementary Schools, where potentially infected employees had been working as of May 19, were closed and 20 employees within the GISD student nutrition program were placed in quarantine due to self-reporting possible exposure.