Land-use webinar to focus on changes in consumer food sourcing during pandemic

November 12, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Changes in how consumers locate and buy their food will be the subject of a web-based seminar hosted by Penn State Extension at noon on Nov. 18.

The 75-minute session will focus on how consumers are dramatically changing their food- purchasing habits in response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.

Presenting the webinar will be Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of marketing and local/regional food systems in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. She will discuss how shopping options beyond basic in-store trips and online orders — including a range of direct-to-consumer and subscription models — have been embraced by consumers. Many have selected those approaches to suit their comfort level, she noted.

“In part, this behavior is due to growing public awareness that food supply chains, which normally operate largely unnoticed and with great efficiency, are in fact fragile and vulnerable,” Schmidt said. “With supply chain interruptions and mandates in several states for social distancing and fewer grocery shopping trips, consumers are compelled to think about food storability and different food-sourcing options.”

This webinar will examine how consumer interest has changed since the advent of the pandemic and whether consumer interest in local foods — such as farm stands, farmers markets and community supported agriculture outlets — will persist. Innovations in short supply chains during the peak of the pandemic, Schmidt pointed out, ultimately will affect long-term profitability of local food systems.

“Changing Consumer Food Sourcing in the COVID-19 Pandemic” is the fifth webinar in the Penn State Extension Summer/Fall 2020 Land Use webinar series, which runs through November. The series helps municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers, and community organizations to be informed about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

All webinars in the series are recorded and are available for viewing later. Other topics and original dates in the series include the following:

  • July 15: “Pedestrians: Safety, Speed and Crosswalks”
  • Aug. 19: ‘The Future of Zoning: The View from the COVID-19 Lens”
  • Sept. 16: “Farmers Markets Before, During and After COVID-19”
  • Nov. 18: “Changing Consumer Food Sourcing in the COVID-19 Pandemic”
  • Oct. 21: “Planning Commissions in Pennsylvania: Requirements and Recommendations”

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification-maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost is also $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. 

For more information, contact Peter Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at To register for the webinars, visit the website.

About Penn State Extension 

Penn State Extension is dedicated to translating scientific research into real-world applications to drive progress. In support of Penn State's land-grant mission, extension programs serve individuals, businesses and communities, while promoting a vibrant food and fiber system, a clean environment, and a healthier population in Pennsylvania and beyond. With support from federal, state and county governments, the organization has a tradition of bringing unbiased information and support to the citizens of Pennsylvania for more than 100 years.

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Last Updated November 12, 2020