Barbara Stinson, who joined the World Food Prize as its new president in January, said that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, her organization has canceled all travel for its staff for the remainder of March. Its Youth Institutes are for the most part being rescheduled or reprogrammed, but are not being canceled, she said.
“We’re trying to support the organizations that have to manage all of this,” she said during an interview for an upcoming Closer Look profile. “The strongest impact for us is our youth programs — which are tremendous in number and tremendous in reach. In the months of March, April and May particularly, we conduct youth institutes gathering tens to sometimes hundreds of students in agricultural development activities.”
The foundation is working with its partners “to create an online WFPF Youth Institute conference experience, when necessary, that maintains the educational integrity and inspiration of our programming, Stinson said. “At this time, some partners are maintaining the scheduled date and time for their virtual WFPF Youth Institute, while others are rescheduling to a new date. Some of our partners, as of now, are still on track to host their WFPF Youth Institute in-person, as originally planned.”
The organization is also watching and waiting to see whether it will need to cancel or postpone its annual laureate announcement ceremony in Washington, D.C., which is typically scheduled for early summer.
Helping to prevent further outbreaks is a significant responsibility, Stinson said.
“The main thing is that we don’t have the impacts of the virus on us personally, and keeping that in perspective and helping those that do and that are trying to prevent outbreak in their community is really our job, particularly for these universities where kids have traveled and they’ve had a lot of exposure,” she said. “Different communities around the country have had huge exposure. We’re lucky in Des Moines so far, but I’m sure it’s coming.”
(This article was updated for clarification).