Now more than ever we need to support our local food & drink producers, according to Paula Seager and Hilary Knight who run Natural Partnerships CIC to help promote local produce.

Food and drink businesses in Sussex and the wider region, as well as so many others, have been hit incredibly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Restaurants, pubs, cafes and event venues had to close their businesses overnight less than three weeks ago.

Many food producers and wholesalers supplying them lost their whole market instantly as a result. Supermarkets became terrifying places to shop as panic-buying set in and farm shops were initially overrun and had to manage the challenges of creating a safe environment for their staff and customers.

“Many businesses have worked tirelessly to overcome this extraordinary situation and create new, safe services to make locally produced food and drink available to people in the region,” according to Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC who manages the Sussex Food & Drink Awards and Southdownsfood.org.

“Both for now and for the future, it is vital that our farmers and producers are able to continue to produce their amazing food and drink and get it out to market. People still need and want to buy it, even if temporarily, we’ll mostly have to cook it ourselves and sup alone, rather than enjoy going out to eat and drink.”

To this end, Natural Partnerships CIC has created a new Home Deliveries & Safe Shopping page on Sussexfoodawards.biz which is daily being updated with free listings to include the many and varied opportunities to buy and enjoy local food & drink across East and West Sussex.

Many Sussex vineyards and breweries are doing home deliveries themselves or using courier services to sell their products from online shops. Superb meat from the farmers in the region is being delivered in meat boxes by several great suppliers, including Brighton Express Meats.

A huge range of cheeses can be ordered and delivered from The Cheese Hut and individual Sussex cheese makers. Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales have redirected their restaurant and pub delivery vans to deliver freshly-caught fish direct to people’s homes across Sussex.

Some farm shops, such as Rushfields, have set up fruit and veg home box deliveries along with vital essentials, such as bread, milk, butter and more.

Continued Paula, “Our local food and drink producers and suppliers are showing amazing creativity and spirit in the face of such difficult times and their hard work is not only allowing us to access great produce now, but will help the hospitality industry to re-group when we are past this crisis.

“With this in mind, I urge people to support our communities by buying local food and drink and using the services we have listed on Sussexfoodawards.biz