Giving Compass’ Take:
• Jay Singh, a long-haul produce trucker, shares his story of how coronavirus impacts his work and affects food supply chains.
• What are potential solutions to helping truckers make their drives safe and productive?
• Read more about salvaging American supply chains amid coronavirus.
Think of the food supply chain, with countless links, invisible to most of us: Farm workers, processors, packers, rail cars, distributors and warehouses. Lose one piece and it falls apart. Mercifully, as a global pandemic sweeps the country, forcing millions of Americans inside, it’s still running. If it stops, we stop eating.
Jay Singh, 29, is one small link in that chain. A resident of Bakersfield, California, he’s been a long-haul trucker for eight years. He first got the idea, he says, when he was working at a gas station, looking for better work. A typical job, he says, might involve driving up to Salinas, where he loads up lettuce and spinach, or to Tulare for dairy products. He then hauls the goods wherever they’re wanted—often to warehouses owned by companies like Walmart, Costco or Little Caesars.
He usually drives from California to Texas, but sometimes goes as far as Pennsylvania. Along the way, he subsists on fast food, cleans up in public bathrooms, and sleeps in the parking lots of state-owned picnic areas. But as the country enters a period of lockdown, his normal routine has started to become impossible. Restaurants have shut their doors. All-night truck stops are daytime-only. And states are closing public parks, including the rest stops that provide crucial respite throughout his journey.
I talked to Singh hours before he got back in his Freightliner Cascadia truck and hit the road—this time, for a six-day round trip to an H-E-B warehouse in Temple, Texas, to deliver lettuce, spinach and other produce. His story has been edited and condensed.
Read the full article about how produce trucking companies are impacted by COVID-19 by Jay Singh and Sam Bloch at The Counter.
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