We are living in a new reality. Shopping carts overflowing with food have left grocery store shelves bare with signs of “limit of 2 on toilet paper” or “no milk or eggs until Saturday.” And this is not the usual “Southern clearing of shelves” before a predicted dusting of snow. It’s our “new normal” as we self-quarantine and practice social distancing to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. With reports of folks hoarding groceries and fights happening in grocery store aisles, I am reminded of the first three rules of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: share everything, play fair and don’t hit people. And my rule…Don’t panic! We have food, please share.
I am confident there is enough food to feed us all, but we have to share and adjust along the way. It’s not just about feeding ourselves, but making sure there is enough food to feed the communities around us. Our personal actions always have a larger ripple effect than we think. Now it’s just more pronounced.
Play By the Rules
So here are my “rules” for your consideration:
1. Play Fair – When we shop for food, if we buy just what we need, we allow others to buy what they need.
- Buy what you need for a week or two, not a month! The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. food retail organizations have reassured us there is enough food in the supply chain. We just need to control the purchasing to allow time for delivery and restocking. Even though most of us are social distancing and adhering to self-isolation guidelines, making weekly trips to the grocery are deemed essential and most of us have the convenience of food pickup and delivery options so stockpiling beyond a few weeks is not necessary.
- Buy what you will use! In a time of panic, our “take all” mentality wins over common sense. Be real. If you never ate peanut butter, you’re probably not going to eat it now. But someone else will.
- Think balance! Think about your food purchases as “short term” or “long term” investments. Buy fresh produce, meats and dairy for immediate use and then add in canned and frozen foods for “long term” security that can supply all your nutritional needs. (See resources below from some of my colleagues who offer insights on stocking the pantry and creating meals during this time).
2. Be Patient – There may not be everything you want but there will always be food that will supply your nutritional needs. It may take a couple of extra days to pick up an online order, but thank the grocery store rather than voice your complaints on social media. Grocery stores have been on overdrive and are quickly hiring more employees to accommodate online ordering fulfillment and in-store stocking of shelves. Kroger, for example, announced this week the hiring of an additional 6,500 employees across the country to meet consumer needs.
3. Share Resources – This is not the time to forget the community around you. Local businesses, nonprofits, food banks and restaurants need your support more than ever.
- Remember nonprofits. If your community is like mine, “needs” list are being posted for most nonprofits as many of their clients are losing jobs due to required closures. Share from your own pantry or add additional items to your grocery list. Remember soap, toilet paper and hand sanitizers are equally important to all.
- Don’t forget food banks. Even though food banks are skilled at disaster and emergency responses, your support is needed. Feeding Kentucky, as with most food banks, are requesting we consider making a financial donation rather than a donation of food items at this time. Monetary donations allow them to purchase large quantities of needed food items at lower costs. Funding is also needed to source items like cardboard boxes, plastic bags, take-home food containers and other equipment that can help facilitate “no-touch distributions” to limit the risk of spread at our food distribution sites, food pantries and hot meal programs.
- Take a break from the kitchen. Order online and pick up a meal from your local restaurant or favorite “drive through.” It’s a way to help local businesses stay in business and keep our neighbors employed during this time of uncertainty.
4. Be Grateful – Thank everyone! Even though we are dealing with disruption, we still have health care, school meals for kids in need, basic services, and food…thanks to our “neighbors” on the front line and along the food value chain. Remember, just because you may not see them, school meal employees, farmers, food processors and companies, truck drivers and agricultural workers have not stopped doing their jobs to keep us fed. Think about how you can show your thanks.
In January, I posed the question “What Will This Decade be Known For? Feeding the World Without Fear?” Little did I know in less than two months, the basic question “Can the world feed me?” has become a reality for all of us, not just a few. Suddenly our attention has moved from our “wants” to our basic needs — food, water, warmth and rest — per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
As we move through this global disruption, may we rise to the occasion to never forget the basic needs for all and be mindful of the 13th Rule of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands (only figuratively for now!), and stick together. Help your neighbor! We will get through this.
COVID-19 Preparedness Insights:
Melissa Joy Dobbins, Sound Bites, “Coronavirus & Quarantine: Food Tips & Resources”
Liz’s Healthy Table
Alice Henneman Instagram
Barbara Baron Associates, “Tips & Tools”
Amy Gorin Nutrition, “Canned Food Storage & Freezer Essentials”
The Packer, “In the wake of panic shoppers”
Grocery Dive.com, “Grocers scramble to hire thousands amid outbreak”
R. Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, 1986.
(available on Amazon)