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Now is a time for kindness as food pantries do more with less

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We're currently living in unprecedented times and so it's perfectly understandable that our first thoughts are about the safety and wellbeing of our loved ones and ourselves. The current and imagined impacts of COVID-19 can be scary and overwhelming and, just when we need reassurance from those around us, we must isolate from them.

While we're busy ensuring that we and our families get through this intact, we also need to spare a thought for the more vulnerable in our communities; those who do not have the support or resources to weather the pandemic in the way that we do.

When you jump in your car to stock up on supplies, remember those who rely on local food relief charities that are now closing because their volunteers (who are usually older) are responsibly self-isolating.

coronavrius foodbank food pantry

When you feel annoyed that you're forced to queue to get into the supermarket, consider those elderly or disabled people who find it difficult to shop at the best of times and now simply can't do it. When you're confronted with shelves empty of key staple items, spare a thought for those who cannot afford more costly alternatives and so must go without altogether.

There are many wonderful organisations stepping up to assist vulnerable people through COVID-19, including Foodbank. In a normal month, we provide food for 815,000 people, but this number is skyrocketing as the newly unemployed join those who struggle at the best of times.

The Foodbank family across Australia is working hard to support those who need help, but it's getting more and more challenging. We can't get food supplies because panic buying is hijacking our usual sources of food as manufacturers work night and day to get their products back on supermarket shelves.

We're struggling to sort and pack the food we can lay our hands on because the corporate volunteers we're dependant on are staying home. And, many of the charities we rely on to distribute the food in the community are struggling themselves to cope or even stay open.

So, resist the temptation to buy more food than you need "just in case". Only buy what you need because the food will be there when you run out.

If you are getting bored at home, consider volunteering on a regular basis at your local Foodbank or community charity. Think of creative ways you can look out for those in your street, neighbourhood or community who might be doing it tougher than you are. We will get through this, but we'll come out better on the other side if we do it together.

To support Foodbank, visit foodbank.org.au

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.

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Sarah Pennell is the general manager of Foodbank Australia, the nation's largest food relief organisation.
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