What is this modern fad of panic-buying all the time? The current phase – prompted by the coronavirus – could do more to starve the poor than years of Tory persecution.
Panic-buying isn’t a new thing; every time there’s a bank holiday weekend, the shelves of This Writer’s local supermarkets empty as local residents stock up to avoid the hardships of a single extra day without a shop.
I don’t get it. Just do a normal weekly shop and you’ll be fine.
Worse still, as shelves are cleared of toilet rolls and hand sanitisers because of the coronavirus, it seems supermarkets are hiking the prices of these essentials – that should be dirt-cheap – in order to make a quick buck.
The knock-on effect is that food banks aren’t getting donations of milk and cereal, and are receiving less cash, because people are hoarding these things for themselves and spending their money on them.
The effect could be devastating:
Donations from shoppers at branches of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose slumped to 25% of their normal volume at one food bank in London, while they have fallen by a third at a Kirkcaldy food bank – where UHT milk has run out.
Some facilities have warned they may close because of concerns about cross-infection, and a food bank in Stonebridge, a deprived area of north-west London, will cut the size of its food parcels by a third from Wednesday, with larger families facing the biggest reductions.
“Panic is going to be more dangerous than the virus,” said Joyce Leggate, the chair of Kirkcaldy food bank, which helps up to 350 families a week. “Our food parcels are essential for the health of many of the people we support. The food can be a lifeline. Please, if you are stockpiling, have a look and say: ‘Am I really going to use this?’ If not, is there someone who needs it more?”
Organisers in Fife, Liverpool and Leicester have reported the unavailability of UHT milk, a key part of their food parcels to keep young children and expecting mothers healthy.
“Emergency food aid providers across the UK are already stretched to the limit and the impact of the spread of coronavirus can only make matters worse,” said Sabine Goodwin, the coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, which represents 189 food banks.
“[They] cannot be expected to support yet more people needing help if schools are closed and those depending on insecure work are forced to rely on charity if taken ill or self-isolating.”
James Quayle, the manager at North Paddington food bank in London, where donations are down to 25% of their normal volume: “It shows the safety net created by our food banks is very thin. The system is not very sustainable. This is another sign that more vulnerable people stand to be worse affected by coronavirus.”
The Tories must be delighted.
Their failure to act, and their provision of limp advice, has created a panic stampede for supplies in which the most vulnerable people are likely to be trampled to death underfoot.
The Tories have been grinding such vulnerable people under their heels for years.
This is exactly what they want and if you are among the panic-buyers, you are playing right into their hands.
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