Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving is probably the most centered on food and for good reason. It originated as a harvest festival and although most of us no longer directly produce the food we eat, it’s still the ideal time to celebrate the bounty of the earth and recognize the people and systems that cultivate it.
This year, our society forged a new relationship with food—we starting hoarding it, along with paper products. It happened in the early days of the pandemic and appears to be on the upsurge once again, along with COVID-19 case numbers. On Friday, state officials and retail experts issued a public plea to Michigan residents, asking that they buy only what they need for a week’s worth of supplies. By not giving in to panic, shoppers can help stores ensure there’s enough on the shelves for everyone, they said.
This shouldn’t be a challenge. Every year, this community and many others band together during the holidays for food drives. The scenario may be different (just about everything has been different in 2020) but the premise is still the same—now’s the ideal time to consider other’s needs before our desires. We can share the bounty instead of keeping it all for ourselves.
Keeping the supply chain moving at a normal pace will mean less stress and hardship particularly for those already dealing with food insecurity. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey, almost one-quarter of American adults expect someone in their household to experience a loss in employment income in the near future while 10.9 percent of American adults lived in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the previous seven days. Additionally, 33.1 percent of adults live in households where it has been somewhat or very difficult to pay usual household expenses during the pandemic.
Panic buying and hoarding also puts a strain on food pantries and organizations that fight hunger. Stores have less to donate and consumers choose to give less. Our region is fortunate to have so many pantries like Imlay City’s First Congregational United Church of Christ and meal suppliers, like Capac’s Kitchen at the United Methodist Church, who have such generous coordinators and volunteers who are always ready to lend a helping hand regardless of the challenges they might face. In the case of the Congregational Church, they’ve met those challenges over the course of several decades. That shows a commitment to their fellow man that we should all embody this Thanksgiving and pandemic holiday season. Perhaps, instead of loading our grocery carts a little bit higher for the sake of comfort, we can dig a bit deeper and donate what we’re able to these worthy organizations.