In the wake of recent developments, CEO of Church Homeless Trust Miriam Morris urges the public to cease panic buying and think of the most vulnerable in society.
Food banks have issued a plea to the public to consider others before they stock-pile food. Food banks are reporting a dramatic decrease in the amount of food which is being donated to them. In some cases they are only getting just a quarter of their usual donations. Notably, they are finding it hard to buy the non-perishable foods they rely on to function, as people are stocking up on supplies of UHT milk, pasta and rice due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Already some foodbanks have had to reduce the amount that they give to people by up to a third.
Panic-buying illustrates a fundamental truth about the world we live in. There is enough to go round if we all take just what we need. Problems arise when some people take more than they need because they feel insecure or fearful, or perhaps, just greedy and entitled. A national emergency such as COVID-19 can bring out the best in people, and it can also bring out the worst.
While it is understandable and right that we are worried about ourselves and our families, we mustn’t forget the most vulnerable. These are the people who live very precarious lives, often on the very edge of survival. It is they who will suffer the most in this crisis. People with no savings and no access to affordable credit will find themselves on sick pay of £95 a week, or perhaps on no pay at all. Many of them are already regularly using foodbanks. If schools are closed and their children are no longer getting free schools dinners, these parents will really struggle to feed themselves and their children.
Before we stockpile we should consider whether there might be someone else whose need is greater than ours. We can donate food at supermarkets, or money to food banks online.
As we approach this epidemic we are rightly aware that while we may be fit and healthy and unafraid for ourselves, our individual actions can have a profound affect on the health and the lives of others. This is not just about washing our hands, it is also about ensuring that our resources are shared fairly.