Good Neighbors

Are You Helping Or Hoarding? Now's The Time To Share

When you're buying up everything in sight at the grocery store, why not pick up something for a neighbor who might be hungry?

If you've been to the supermarket over the past few days, you've experienced it: people are hoarding necessities. From the empty shelves where loaves of bread should be, to the signs limiting shoppers to a certain number of packages of toilet paper, it's impossible not to see how worried people are about the potential of quarantines to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Many people who live paycheck to paycheck were already worried about feeding their families; now it's probably bordering on panic. This is not a surprise: the group Feeding America says 37 million Americans, including 11 million children are what's called "food insecure" meaning they don't have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

The free food pantry in West View, PA, was emptied in less than 24 hours.

I volunteer with a group called North Hills Cares, and about a year and a half ago, we built a little free pantry in West View, PA, one of the neighborhoods we serve in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh.

There's usually an ebb and flow: people take food in an emergency, and donate it when they have extra. But the demand on this very small food source in the past 24 hours is unlike anything we've seen. It seems to demonstrate just how much people who needed food before the coronavirus pandemic -- really need it now:

While I was at our Free Pantry, I met Susan Basinski, who lives less than a mile away. She told me she likes to stop by and donate some items every time she goes to the grocery store to shop for her own family. "I figured a lot of people are worried," about having enough food Susan told me.

"I just want to be a good neighbor and help out the other people that maybe don't have the groceries they need and are worried about things to come."

Susan Basinski adds some soup and even a box of Girl Scout cooikes to the free pantry.

How can you start something good?

What can you do to help your neighbors put food on the table during this time of great insecurity?

It's always a good time to start a free pantry or "Blessing Box" as they're called in other parts of the country. Here's our previous story with some ideas on how to do it.

Blessing Boxes Stocking Up On Hope And Help

Even simpler: make sure you're supporting your local food bank and food pantries with donations right now. Your neighbors who are facing hunger until things get back to normal thank you! If you don't know how to contact your local food bank, click here for a link to Feeding America's search tool that lets you plug in your zip code to find the pantry nearest you, and #StartSomethingGood.

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