Dear Stockpilers

As someone who has never lived through a pandemic, the COVID-19 outbreak has provided me with challenges that I have never faced before. One of these challenges has been preparing myself to be potentially quarantined in my home for at least two weeks, though I fear that I may have to stay inside for much longer than that. In response to this impending situation, my parents, who have also never lived through a pandemic, have made it a priority to make sure we will have what we need during this time. Our basement pantry is sufficiently stocked up with toilet paper, cans of soup, and plenty of peanut butter. This reality is one that I think many families can relate to.

Though the abundance of food and supplies in my house does bring me comfort, it also fills me with guilt and worry for those who have been unable to stock up like my family has. What about people who have to travel by bus to get to the grocery store and are only able to buy what they can carry? What about people who can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars all at once in order to prepare for the coming weeks? What about people who simply didn’t think it was necessary to stockpile like those of us who have, and now can’t find what they need in stores? In a time where most of us are facing the possibility of having to remain inside our homes for an undetermined amount of time, I can’t imagine the stress and fear people in these situations must be feeling.

The stockpiling that my family and others have done has caused a problem in our society: most stores are running out of supplies that people depend on. There seems to be no easy solution to this problem because every time stores restock their inventory people tend to buy up whatever they can get their hands on. I recognize that my family and I are part of the problem, and we have resolved to stop buying more goods and leave them for those who really need them.  

If you are currently in need of supplies, try local grocery stores and pharmacies before going to big chains. Smaller stores are more likely to have the supplies you need, and supporting the local economy is more important now than ever. Some stores even have special hours reserved for seniors only. Another option is to shop from online stores like Amazon and eBay, though their prices continue to rise as the demand for goods increases. 

During these unique and fearful times, I encourage people to think of their neighbors and only buy what you need. The CDC recommends creating a supply of food, household items, and medication that can sustain you and your family for two weeks, not two months. If you’ve already achieved this goal, please leave the supplies for other people. If you have extra supplies, consider sharing some with people in your life that need it.