An Ominous Sign: Americans Have Begun STEALING FOOD to Survive

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign that things are really bad economically in the United States, here it is. Americans who never would have contemplated shoplifting before are stealing food to survive.

One of the things that we often say in preparedness circles as we watch chaotic Black Friday scenes or fiery riots unfold is, “You think it’s bad now? Just wait until people are hungry!”

Well, guess what?

People are hungry.

Food insecurity and hunger

I wrote the other day about how the response to the pandemic has destroyed the personal finances of American families. An area that deserves more attention is food insecurity.  Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life at a household level.

Hunger, on the other hand, is a personal, physiological condition that results from food insecurity.

The word “hunger,” the panel stated in its final report, “…should refer to a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation.” (source)

More than 50 million people are suffering from food insecurity in the United States right now, a number that has leaped dramatically due to the response to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, an estimated 54 million Americans will struggle with hunger this year, a 45 percent increase from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With food aid programs like SNAP and WIC being reduced, and other federal assistance on the brink of expiration, food banks and pantries are being inundated, reporting hours-long waits and lines that stretch into the thousands. (source)

There are a number of reasons this is occurring at such large numbers.

  • Massive numbers of job losses
  • The increasing price of food
  • Children who used to get breakfast and lunch at school are now eating all three meals at home
  • Many families who can’t afford their bills and groceries still make too much money to qualify for federal food assistance

This is a topic that a lot of people are judgmental about because they’ve never experienced it and consider it a sign of a character flaw.

I spent several years living with food insecurity and poverty when my children were younger, and I can tell you for a fact, it’s a terrifying feeling when you have no idea what you’re going to feed those precious little humans for dinner. I skipped many meals so my kids could eat and I was working full time. Food insecurity is not just something that happens to lazy bums. It could be happening to that nice family next door to you and you’d never know it. Many people are only one bit of bad luck away from poverty right now.

Having been in this horrible position, I want to urge you, if you are able to afford it, to please donate to food banks, soup kitchens, or directly to families in need. Non-perishable foods, treats for the kids, peanut butter, things that don’t require a lot of cooking (families in need may not have the utilities available to cook beans and rice from scratch), and hygiene products are all very welcome. When you’re broke, fresh produce is always the first to go, so if you’re donating directly and can swing it, consider adding some fresh fruits and vegetables.

Elected officials are busy playing games.

As food becomes more difficult to acquire, people are becoming desperate. Hunger in the United States has reached a level that hasn’t been seen in decades. Much of the additional aid from the government expired months ago and our elected officials are too busy playing games to pass a bill that will actually assist the people who are suffering without lining the pockets of big businesses.

More than 20 million Americans are on some form of unemployment assistance, and 12 million will run out of benefits the day after Christmas unless new relief materializes. Though lawmakers have made progress this week on a $908 billion bill, details are still being worked out, congressional aides said…

…Several federal food programs that have provided billions of dollars in fresh produce, dairy and meat to U.S. food banks also are set to expire at the end of the year. The largest among them, the Farmers to Families Food Box, has provided more than 120 million food boxes during the pandemic and is already running out of funding in many parts of the country. (source)

The government – you know – the ones who have caused this crisis by destroying millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of businesses – aren’t doing a whole lot to help. While it isn’t the government’s job to take care of everybody, does that change when they’re the ones who screwed everybody in the first place and created a situation in which people couldn’t take care of themselves?

So how are people without any money getting food?

Twenty percent of Americans are now turning to food banks to help keep their families fed. And according to a report in the Washington Post, the shoplifting of food and other essential items is increasing significantly.

The result is a growing subset of Americans who are stealing food to survive.

Shoplifting is up markedly since the pandemic began in the spring and at higher levels than in past economic downturns, according to interviews with more than a dozen retailers, security experts and police departments across the country. But what’s distinctive about this trend, experts say, is what’s being taken — more staples like bread, pasta and baby formula.

“We’re seeing an increase in low-impact crimes,” said Jeff Zisner, chief executive of workplace security firm Aegis. “It’s not a whole lot of people going in, grabbing TVs and running out the front door. It’s a very different kind of crime — it’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.” (source)

I’m sure we can all agree that stealing is wrong. But I’m also sure we can all agree that being unable to feed our children could compel us to do things we’d otherwise never do.

The Washington Post article shows the human side of those who are shoplifting.

So who is actually doing the stealing? It’s a mixed bag. There are some people who are literally stealing to survive while others are stealing items to continue to maintain their lifestyle or “spice up” their inexpensive meals.

Jean is a single mom who was working full time and going to college when the pandemic hit, causing her son’s preschool to close, which in turn, meant she had to quit her job to care for him, which in turn meant she wasn’t eligible for unemployment.

Jean said she was out of options. So she began sneaking food into her son’s stroller at the local Walmart. She said she’d take things like ground beef, rice or potatoes but always pay for something small, like a packet of M&M’s. Each time, she’d tell herself that God would understand.

“I used to think, if I get in trouble, I’d say, ‘Look, I’m sorry, I wasn’t stealing a television. I just didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t malicious. We were hungry,’ ” said Jean, 21, who asked to be identified by her middle name to discuss her situation freely. “It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s what I had to do.” (source)

While Jean feels terrible about it and has focused on necessities, there’s another side to the shoplifting – those who don’t seem to feel badly about it at all and who shoplift things that aren’t exactly keeping them alive.

Sloane lost her job in the initial wave of layoffs and her partner quit because he didn’t feel safe working in retail during the pandemic. She focuses on large chains instead of smaller businesses because they can afford the loss.

In Virginia, Sloane, 28, says she has been dropping avocados, mushrooms and other fresh produce into her bag without paying for them since September. She worries constantly about getting caught and takes only a couple of items at a time. “But when you’re eating cheap meals every day, sometimes it’s nice to have an avocado to spice things up for one night,” she said. (source)

And Alex graduated with a master’s degree in May when absolutely nobody was hiring. She steals from Whole Foods and doesn’t feel guilty.

She’d spent most of her $1,200 stimulus check on rent, and used what little she had left to buy groceries. Everything else — vitamins, moisturizer, body wash — she said she shoplifted from a Whole Foods Market a few miles from her apartment in Chicago.

“It was like, I could spend $10 and get a couple of vegetables or I could spend $10 on just a box of tampons,” said Alex, 27, who asked to be identified by her middle name to speak candidly…
…She says she moves through the store mostly unnoticed. Usually, she said, she picks up a few bulky vegetables — a bunch of kale, maybe, or a few avocados — to disguise the pricier items she slips into her bag at the self checkout.

“I don’t feel much guilt about it,” she said. “It’s been very frustrating to be part of a class of people who is losing so much right now. And then to have another class who is profiting from the pandemic — well, let’s just say I don’t feel too bad about taking $15 or $20 of stuff from Whole Foods when Jeff Bezos is the richest man on Earth.” (Bezos is the founder and chief executive of Amazon, which owns Whole Foods. He also owns The Washington Post.) (source)

This is just a small glimpse into the mindset of people whose circumstances have changed.

You may read these stories and focus on the last two. If you did that, I think you’d be overlooking the bigger picture. Those who are stealing to survive are not out there talking to the Washington Post about it. They’re ashamed to be in the position in which they have to steal. And the statistics support this theory. To be clear, more of the things being stolen are far from luxury items like body wash and avocados. Items being stolen the most frequently are diapers, formula, ground beef, rice, pasta, bread, milk, and winter clothing.

They may not be getting away with as much as they think they are.

The people who are stealing smaller items and focusing on big companies that “can absorb the losses” may think that they’ll get in less trouble because the value of the items is so low. But they could be in for a terrible surprise.

An employee of Target who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity warned that many of the larger stores like Target and Walmart have facial recognition software and they keep records of what a person is stealing. He explained how it works:

Stores like Target and Walmart have facial recognition software and they will put you into a database even if you’ve only stolen one small thing and will wait until you’ve stolen a cumulative amount of 600-1000 dollars worth of merchandise so they can charge you with something bigger.

So for example, if you walked into a Target in Richmond and stole a pair of panties, and then went to a different city, say, Charlotte, as soon as you walk into the store, it pulls up your face and gives security the option to open the file and like see all the other tapes with your face on them.

You know all those cameras that are everywhere at the large discount stores now, including at the self-checkout counter and over the doors as you walk in? Yeah, those are the ones putting you in a database.

So what happens next?

While it feels like our nation’s economic disaster has been going on for a very long time, we’re still in the early stages. We still have a regular rule of law in most places. We have police officers, a court system, and some forms of government aid. But as things worsen – and they will – so too will the level of desperation.

Shoplifting of food and necessities has increased dramatically since last March. Retail theft in Philadelphia is up 60% over last year’s numbers. This kind of theft always increases after a major disaster, but according to Read Hayes, a criminologist at the University of Florida and the director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, “the current trend line is skewing even higher” than normal post-disaster.

The fact that retail theft has continued to increase so dramatically is an incredibly important warning sign for us to heed. While some people seem to be stealing out of a sense of entitlement, others are stealing in order to survive. No longer are people able to put together meals from food banks, government assistance, their jobs – they are stealing in order to feed their families.

If you look at economic collapses, historically the thefts start small. You see the things we’re seeing now. A mom trying to feed her toddler. A broke young couple trying to replace the things they can no longer afford to buy. But don’t expect things to stay at the current level.

Where do we go next? Well, hopefully, it won’t get this bad, but consider Venezuela – a country whose path to economic disaster we are parallelling at a rather unsettling level.

Remember in Venezuela when people began attacking trucks carrying supplies? Or how hungry people have stolen cows and horses from farms? Or how they’ve raided the zoos in search of meat? Remember the videos and photos you’ve seen of hungry people looting – not for televisions and expensive sneakers – but in order to eat?

And then what?

When all the stores are out of food? When all the farms have been plundered? Where do those hungry people go next?

It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think they might show up at your front door. It would probably start with the folks who know you. Friends, extended family, neighbors who all think you might be able to spare a meal or a loaf of bread. You should consider now how you plan to answer that question, which will, of course, vary from person to person.

I hope that you’ve practiced careful OpSec all these years we’ve been talking about it. Because we are approaching a time when that your insistence on privacy won’t seem silly to the people who thought you were cute but maybe a little paranoid or a little kooky.

If things continue to decline and it becomes well known that you have a supply of food, you’d better hope that you have a vigorous defensive plan and the means to enact it. Because you’re going to have a Black Friday mob at your gate. And they’re going to be after the means to stay alive, not just sale-priced bathroom linens.

What do you think?

Have you seen evidence of an increase in food insecurity in your area? Are you experiencing it yourself? Have you considered what your response would be if someone came asking for food? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Stealing is wrong and no matter how someone tries to justify it they are making excuses for illegal behavior. We all have to pay for their crimes and their failure to plan is not my responsibility. I see the lines on the news for drive thru food banks and it is full of late model vehicles. Today people have an entitled mentality and are not willing to sacrifice and expect someone else to provide for them.

    Sell the new car and get one that you can afford. Cancel the cable, internet (unless needed for school or work), cellphone plans etc. as these are luxuries and texting and FB are not essential. Years ago America went from savers to spenders with nothing put back for the future and now the chickens are coming home to roost. For some this is their SHTF situation and they failed to plan for it. The grasshopper and the ant story will always apply.

    • What I noticed is that neighbors on the neighborhood website Next-door, are joining a list of people who will help those in need. I have seen people post saying what they need and people step up. If you are hungry, I really believe all you have to do is knock on someone’s door and say, “Hey, I’m hungry, can you help?” but the easier way is to post online – there are many who will be there.

      • Yes, but. I saw a post in my state in which someone said they were hungry and broke and asked for $100 gift cards for the local food coop. Now that’s a lovely food coop but I , and many others, can’t afford to shop there. We buy sale store brand stuff at chain grocery stores. So I have to admit I was a bit appalled that someone was asking for food assistance to shop there; kinda like being really broke and wanting to shop at Whole Foods. But evidently she did get some people to do this for her. so yeah, I guess asking for what you want works. I don’t think I’d ever have done this myself though. And I didn’t donate money to her although I do buy food for the food shelf.

        • Sounds like one of the “newly poor” living above their means and not saving for a rainy day.
          Unfortunately, that is the way too many people live. And then all of a sudden,
          BAM! The job is gone. The mortgage is due. The car payment is do. They’re going to cut off the electricity. etc.
          I can hear it now. “If only…”
          As someone above said. Sell the fancy car. Buy something you can pay cash for. Stop the cable and the $200.00 per month cell phone bill.
          . It’s really quite interesting the line of new high end cars at the drive through food banks.

          • One thing people don’t consider when they say “sell the fancy car” is that it isn’t always an option. If you’re upside down in your car loan (meaning you owe more money than the car is worth) you can’t “just sell it.” You can only sell it if you have the cash on hand to make up the difference. And if you have the cash on hand to make up the difference, chances are, you’re not in line at the food bank.

            The other option is to default on the loan and let the lender take the vehicle back. Then they’ll sell the car and you will be on the hook for the difference. And if you do not pay the difference? They can very easily get a court order and garnish your wages for the money until the difference is paid off. And…you STILL don’t have a car. In many cases a car is necessary to get to work and back – that all depends on where you live.

            You guys need to remember all these things people are casually recommending folks “get rid of” are contractual obligations that can land you in a lot of hot water if you “just stop.” You may need a bankruptcy attorney to “just stop” or to “just sell.” And – oh what’s that? More money that these folks don’t have.

            I don’t say this to be a jerk. I say this because a lot of folks genuinely don’t know how this works.

            • Agreed, Daisy, and thanks for saying this. Many times people will get the nice car when they are doing really well financially and can actually handle all the payments – then something totally unexpected happens and they are stuck. That happened to me around twelve years and it really was bad. I had a great cushy office job with no trouble with money – I bought a house and all – and it was a reasonable house. Then out of the blue I was asked to train my outsourced replacement and the only work I could get paid about half what I had been making. I already had most things cut down to minimums but still lost the house and nearly lost my only vehicle.

            • They willfully accepted these contractual obligations and like Not So Free stated they didn’t plan for a rainy day. They could have bought a cheaper car, a no contract phone, skipped the tattoos and hair dye and used the savings to buy food too put back as many of us have but there’s no fun in that.

              Instead they chose not to prepare and this is what we have said all along about a SHTF scenario. There will be those that prepared and those that didn’t and someone’s SHTF situation may not have an impact on those around them.
              It all boils down to personal responsibility, personal choices and they chose poorly so they must live with the consequences or they will never learn.

              • You willfully refuse to understand that things change in ways we never imagine in our wildest dreams. I hope that if something bad happens to you, people are less judgmental and unkind.

              • RC, look at it from a different point of view. I spent 30+ years in the fire service, doing both prevention and combat firefighting. When we showed up on an emergency, the LAST thing the victims needed to hear was some, “well, you should’ve done XYZ”, song and dance. I’ve delivered Firemans Cheer Fund boxes of used, refurbished toys to houses with late model vehicles and elaborate entertainment centers. I thought the same things you espoused, both I became very clear how steep that precipice is when the parent(s) start spilling their stories (and tears) about what they could, and couldn’t do to alleviate their newly financial hardship. Like Daisy said, hopefully you’ll never find yourself in that situation; but I’m guessing that if you’re more than a keyboard warrior, those around already know how you feel and you might probably find a dry well of compassion from them.

            • This is why I have always saved money and paid cash for our vehicles. We have 2, nice ones. I agree with what Daisy said above, and right now even if you had ot paid off, who will buy it? Everyone is saving their pennies right now.

    • Pathetic you assume these people have new cars, cable, and other “luxuries”. As far as “savers putting back”, may you end up in a Twilight Zone episode and see how well you do working one or more minimum wage part time jobs. Years ago America didn’t look down on those less fortunate – neither did jesus.

  • back when I was unemployed I quite often ran out of money but I never ran out of food-always had a store cupboard.
    anyone in America heard of “dumpster diving”? might be another way to go.

    • Scavenging is a thing indeed. Lots of people here live from that. Since I started in prepping and survival yrs ago I´ve been training in the streets like a homeless, and scavenging is a big thing IMHO.

      Of course nowadays things are different it´s a lot easier to find stuff everywhere. But you never know and it´s good to know how, what and when. It´s hard, but we get used to it even when there´s food at home.

      • In my book about my own experience living in poverty, I wrote about how someone called the police on me when I was dumpster diving behind a grocery store in the middle of the night. It was probably hands down, the most awful, humiliating experience of my life. I had my toddler in her stroller with me and I was getting some produce so I could cut away the bad spots when the cops rolled up with their flashing lights. I wasn’t making a mess or causing a disturbance – I was literally taking food out of the garbage – but they took the food away from me and I was terrified they were going to call Children and Family Services on me.

        These solutions are all theory unless you’ve actually been hungry.

        • I am so sorry that you were treated like that. What in the hell is going on in the world where “dumpster food” is taken away from you? It truly is inexcusable.

          You are right in that one doesn’t have any idea what it’s like to BE hungry unless you’ve BEEN hungry.

          In addition to keeping our eyes open, we need to keep our hearts open too.

    • I use to dumpster dive. When things were bad, i would go into the store and ask the for the discards in fruits and veggies. I would trim out the bad ends and eat the good parts

    • Yeah, check out the YouTube channel – Freaking Frugal. Her episode on dumpster diving. She gets good food – 14+ cans of chicken, not expired, for example. It’s amazing!! People have an image of pulling out half-eaten food when dumpster diving and that is simply not the case.

    • I have not only heard of dumpster diving, I have done it, during a period when my husband was unemployed. But these days most grocery stores take steps to make the food inedible before they throw it out. They slit bread bags and pour bleach on them, for instance. Maybe destroying edible food ought to be illegal! But our laws would then allow people to sue if they got sick from something in the trash. That needs to be changed.

      I had bones in my freezer back then, and made a lot of stock from them, which became soup using vegetables from a dumpster. I had staples like flour, yeast and baking soda, and even powdered milk, so I did not have to take bread. I left it for other dumpster divers, of whom there were quite a few.

  • Local radio station reported the regions food banks have seen a record number of people in need of food.

    And, those same food banks have seen record numbers of donations to meet the need.

    • I may not trust corporations, government, politicians, ad nauseum – but I have faith that the human spirit will prevail.

      Thanks to all the “angels” in the world. We may not hear about them. They probably aren’t famous. They may not even be wealthy. They certainly don’t make for good news stories these days. Who wants to hear stories of hope? Of people helping out those in need in “record numbers”?

      But I know in my heart that there are legions of them. Blessed Be.

  • This is a very important topic Daisy. It affects everyone directly.

    Hunger brings a lot of ripple effects. Shoplifting is bad and all of course. But it’s just the start and it can get a lot worse.

    When good business is bad, bad business booms. And that’s crime. Desperate people do desperate things.

    Probably will, we’re headed to the 80’s (and that’s better than the options I guess).

    Stagflation, unemployment, social unrest… bad taste in makeup and fashion (the music & movies was fantastic though and despite all that we had a ton of fun

    We’ll see.

    • Hey! I LOVED the 80’s. Bad makeup and fashion and all!

      Glam Mëtal (Mötley Crüe rulez \m/\m/), big hair, spandex, leather…all this is making me dizzy with delight!

      The 80’s ROCKED!


  • Right now there´s a lot of beggars everywhere. This is the first stage: individuals and even families waiting at storefronts, farmacies and restaurant entrances to ask for donations of stuff and money. “Buy me a bag of rice or a box of milk or whatever”. For some it´s a job, there are professional mendicants who employ their kids and all. It´s a thing.

    When people can´t help them anymore, the second stage is crime. No one will ask anymore. They will follow you out of the supermarket, the bank or whatever and they will rob you.

    From there is downhill just like Venezuela. People are the same everywhere, it´s a mistake to think it´s different.

  • Having spent over a decade in retail management when I was younger, I can attest that diapers and formula are a high theft item even during “good times”; when I managed an apparel outlet, shoes were our biggest loss. In the gun shop I worked at 2018-19, it was .22LR – presumably for hunting varmints (both for food and to try to protect gardens and small livestock) or obviously the person who wanted to “plink” for free.

    If anyone hunts and has some meat to share (especially venison), get in touch with your local Hunters for the Hungry affiliate. Hunters have generously contributed over 2 million pounds/8 million meals to homeless shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens nationwide. (If you don’t hunt, but are able to help with processing fees through an affiliated butcher, HFH is always grateful for donations on that side as well.) No affiliation on my part 🙂 just a cause I love and support.

  • At the closest military commissary, purchase of high demand items have been rationed since the first run on them almost a year ago.

    However many local grocery stores operate on a first come first serve basis.

    Stealing is wrong, especially when there are still options available through charity.

    When a person posts pictures on Facebook of their latest tattoo/piercing/gaming equipment one week then asks for donations the next, I’m not inclined to give.

  • Food insecurity??????? Playing with words to justify their agenda. I grown tired of these tactics. Socialists are all the same, if there is no crisis then create one. I am money insecure meaning I want more. Please donate to me and you’ll feel better about yourself.

  • I don’t honestly go shopping much at this point, but I was gonna make a Walmart/Aldis/etc trip next week anyway–just to see. Now I’ll keep an eye out for anybody “helping themselves” too.

    The food banks around here have been lean since before the pandemic hit, and it only got worse. I felt so bad when the Scouting for Food kids came around in November, because I hadn’t been out in weeks and had nothing to leave them–totally MY bad. I’ve been meaning to start donating again, and I think it’s time. We used to do a lot through our church but let it slide (once we stopped going to church) due to our own issues for the last couple of years.

  • I count my blessings every day. My roommate and I are fortunate enough to keep a roof over our head and food on the table (plus food for my BFF, Ramses) but we are certainly not weathly by any stretch of the imagination.

    Donating to charitable causes – including giving to local food banks and organizations like CityTeam – is a regular monthly habit. When grocery stores offer “grab and go” bags of food which are distributed locally we add one to our weekly purchases. Some of these cost as little as $5 – an amount we can easily afford.

    Although neither of us can predict what will happen in the coming months, RIGHT NOW we are in the fortunate position of helping others who are not so fortunate.

    Yes, we are truly blessed.

  • Great article, Daisy. Another group to keep in mind is the elderly or disabled who may not be able to wait in long lines at Food Banks or grocery stores.

    In my state, there are long lines to get into the grocery stores and I’ve seen videos of long lines to get into food banks, too. The grocery store lines are particularly difficult for the aged and disabled because there is no protection from the cold, no place to sit down, no outdoor toilets.

    • Fina:

      Thank you for the reminder. There are many organizations who distribute food to those who are elderly, sick, or otherwise housebound. When I lived in Northern California there were two local churches who maintained food pantries which were open on Saturdays to anyone who was hungry. They also took donations of food, some of which was donated by people who had (at one time) visited their pantries when THEY were hungry.

      One more thing, VOLUNTEERS are sorely needed during times of great hardship. Or maybe you know someone in your neighborhood who could use help in some way.

      The opportunities are literally endless for anyone who wants to help.

  • Great article! It’s nice to say we are prepared, quietly, of course. When it comes to helping those that are starving in shtf, we have a small solution, we have collected small paper sandwich sack and things like ramen noodles, apple sauce cups ,crackers etc. This way you can give them something, but you have to be lean on what you provide so they don’t think you have a lot. It would be very difficult for me to deny a child or elderly person the opportunity for one more meal, no matter how small. If you think about the things you could put into a sharing sack, you’d be surprised how so very little could help in a big way, There are so many things you could add like pieces of hard candy, jelly packets, small cans of potted meat, tuna, the list goes on. These are the things that you can “afford” to part with, without hurting your own family, but you have to be careful.

    • Thanks so much for this great idea! I’ve been casting about for some way I could help on occasion without breaking opsec, and this sounds perfect!

    • Thank you Pamela for what you do. I totally understand what you are doing. Every pay period – i try to put away $5 to $10. I use this to go to the dollar store or dollar general and make purchases of food. I put them in small boxes to be given away. The dollar can still be stretched at these stores.

  • The food banks were stretched last year, I would hate to see what they are like this year. Last year I had all my Christmas food shopping stolen out of my ute. I was in total shock . But I hoped that the person who took it really needed it. This year I’ve seen more people in the suburbs asking for money where as before it was more just in the cities. I will not expose myself , children or my purse to giving anyone money . But if I have the some money available and I would go to the closest cafe and buy the a coffee & toasted sandwich and ask the staff to deliver it to them for me. I’ve never had a staff member say no , most often they see I have my hands full with my children and think it’s great we want to help. Many years ago when I was in a better financial position we made up complete hampers to donate, each week for the month of November I added extra to my shopping .

  • A worrisome issue indeed, though most of us likely saw this coming. I’ll be sure to donate a little extra to the food bank when I shop. The company I work for is arranging a drive for them too so that’s good.

    The program “Produce on Wheels Without Waste” is pretty awesome if you’re in the Southwestern US – 12 dollars gets you up to 70 pounds of reclaimed fruits and vegetables. Donating or volunteering there is always appreciated but it’s also a great place to get food.

    A note on Opsec – for those of us who do Zoom meetings or equivalent it’s a good idea to maintain a blank background. A cheap sheet or shower curtain can do wonders and you can always say it’s for less visual clutter and a more professional appearance. When I had to get a webcam because of meetings I checked my sight lines pretty carefully before ever going “on air.” I’m glad I did, I was amazed at what could be seen. Now I have a blank backdrop AND I use the fun digitally inserted backgrounds!

  • Thank you Daisy for making it real and also sharing your own personal struggles. I grew up dirt poor. I have been blessed by God to have had a successful career and live quite comfortably, yet I pray to Jesus I NEVER forget where I came from. Sometimes it seems in the preparedness community that we get a bit proud and become subject matter experts on telling people why they are in the mess they are in and what they coulda, shoulda, woulda done. The problem with that kind of advice is – we don’t know their story- we only know what we can see with our own two eyes from our own limited vantage point at a given time. No matter how much, how hard, and how fast we prep, it can ALL be taken away in the blink of an eye and we become “those people”.
    I went through Hurricane Flo 2 years ago. Had to evacuate to another state. I was prepped to the gills and even had some store houses about an hour+ away in another town. I owned rental properties in another state north of where I lived. We were hit hard by Flo and a few weeks later where my rental properties are located was wiped out by Michael. The only loss I suffered was a few thousand dollars damage to my primary residence and a few hundred to my rental property. I was blessed, but I also realize that even though I am the queen of prepping, EVERYTHING could have been wiped away in a matter of weeks. Yes, I would have been able to survive that but my focus has to be in the fact that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is my ultimate provision and provider. I do what I can but as a human, I am neither omniscient nor omnipotent.
    I try to help others struggling and also I go to thrift stores and look for people I can pay their tab at the checkout, give to food banks, and for any listening ear, I try to teach preparedness and practical skills like canning, gardening, etc. I know for those who are in the middle of the struggle direct aid helps more than some of the other things I can offer but I try to cover the bases. And yes, I do believe that those who are able bodied and minded need to do whatever they can by honest means to help themselves as well.

  • So what happens if this continues and the just in time food delivery system goes down or something stops it for more than 2-3 days?

  • Illegal behaviour romeo Charlie? If your are not breaking laws now you are not living in today’s society.

    You never break any laws even of the tax code? Never go to work and have a shitty day and yet still get full pay?

    For stealing these people have other choices and are just not willing to do as much as I would to stay fed.

    On a dare I was asked to live one week without using any money while I could use what I had but not sell it.

    Ie i could stay in apt but could not sell off items to get cash to pay for things and no using favors or friends.

    I found walking into a restaurant and saying I was hungry and was willing to work for my meal. Never got refused, same with the local grocery store. They put me to work breaking down boxes and cleaning up. 2 hours mostly then free food.

    Hardest was getting gas…. had to work on construction site in exchange for 5 gallons of fuel. Could not even bring my vehicle there had to walk it 3 miles to fuel as last thing I wanted is for them to see my car.

    I held a full time job on top of this. So not like that was my only concern. It was hardest to ask people that you where hungry and would work for food. Humbling, how you dressed made huge difference. In Jean’s and a t shirt with running shoes easiest.

    Also I am not a small person, women have huge advantage over guys in this by what work and how much you offered. Gf did the same dare a few weeks after …. let’s say her time was alot easier than mine.

  • Like you Daisy, my life went upside down and I couldn’t afford to feed my kids, going without food for them. Lost my home and car. Like an escalator, there are many levels of poverty and hunger. When I hit bottom I began to prepare, never wanting to be without food ever again. Even now with money in the bank, a beautiful home and car paid for, those memories haunt me & my now grown kids. God help’s those who help themselves, but please remember to show mercy and grace on those that are struggling, need help or might be too proud to ask for help.

  • Food? Nope! Flat-screen TV thief flags down driver, steals van. The incident unfolded in Orchards, Washington on Wednesday, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office told KOIN 6 News. As the woman pushed the large flat-screen down the street, she flagged down a driver who stopped to help. When the TV was inside his van, she took off without him.

  • We get by just fine now, but I remember as a child asking my mom what was for dinner one night and hearing her reply, “I don’t know, baby. Hopefully something will work out.” I know it broke her to tell me that. Thank you for posting this, Daisy—one of my major issues with the general prepping community is the high level of smugness that seems to come with it. Some of us have worked hard all of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to buy 100 acres in the virgin forest and put back enough food for two decades. It’s refreshing to hear you acknowledge that, and I appreciate it. Oh, and that night—my dad’s friend showed up unannounced with a pizza. He was a delivery guy and had an extra one a customer had refused. My mom had been praying all afternoon 🙂

    • Your folks were good people – IMHO, good people are in a circle of good people. We help each other out when/as we can. We don’t keep score. Yes, we are selective as to who is in the circle – one nice deed/instance of help doesn’t guarantee a place in the circle. After all these years, the unexpected and most welcome pizza remains in your mind. While we’ll never meet, I suspect we’d be in the circle together. While I live comfortably, I don’t have 100 acres nor do I have two decades of food. I do have financial means to purchase even if prices go up-up and space to garden. I think it is important to plan and prep, it shouldn’t be an obsession and certainly does not make anyone better than anyone else.

    • I agree there is a lot of smugness in the prepping community. It’s sad that a lot of people who came from nothing can’t remember from where they came. God answers prayers in mysterious ways sometimes.

  • This year, since we’ve found ourselves to be among the fortunate; instead of presents to each other, my husband and I have donated both to a food bank we know truly needs it (no govt. support for them) AND to a local shelter.
    We’ve used the food banks when we were younger and the children smaller. It feels really good to be able to give back – but this isn’t why we donate – we donate because it’s the right thing to do.

  • In the uk at moment the lorries are still moving and the food aid is arriving.As you may know we are a net food importer. The government/NHS are imposing a fascist state they have concentration camps! Very concerning international travel band . Scotland breakaway state potential muclear internal passport system. Wales???? They’ve gone bi lingual.

  • Daisy Thank you for how you responded to the cruel clueless people in the comments.
    During the Obama time our state was already struggling with employment. My husband went from a apprentice industrial maintenance with reimbursed college classes to doing what he could. We went as long as we could without signing up for government food assistance. I had 1 meal left in the house and 3 small children and a baby. We both had grown up poor and knew how to live frugal.
    There was nothing to cut, sell or unsubscribe from. We didn’t have any credit card debt either.

  • I have lots of beans and rice, canned salsas, crema, and more plus bags of powdered eggs, some flour, corn meal, baking powder and much more.
    I have plants started for two big gardens, one for us and a garden for a neighbor. I have extra plants for a free table to the community. Some garden. I’m encouraging more to start. At harvest time I’ll have a cheap “honor” farm stand. Pay what you can. We will eat, dry and and can produce for us.
    I trim a bunch of elm trees yearly. Not great wood but I cook with it all summer. I can heat in winter with it as well. When I heat I cook on the heat collector of my rocket stove.
    I live in a very small unincorporated village. Maybe 200 people. I aim to help here and a food bank in a neighboring town that serves the county. I can’t feed everyone but I can grow more that we need fresh or in storage. I live on social security. I’m hoping the honor tabIe will pay for cleaning supplies and something toward the cost of grain for us and the critters.
    I bought large quantity heirloom seeds to add to my saved seeds. Prices were about the same as packets. I bought seed starting flats ect from a nursery supply much cheaper that anywhere else. Home Depot sold 11 lb blocks of coco coir delivered cheap to my front door. It goes a long way. 17 flats and I just opened the second block to repot winter squash till the late spring freezes stop. Next I will be repotting early varieties of tomatoes while I finish making new beds to enlarge the garden and a new strawberry bed for 50 plants I’ve ordered. I’m planting 10 blackberry plants, 20 ft of raspberries, 3 large elderberries, 4 dwarf mulberry trees, 2 apple trees, garden huckleberries from seed… and seed to start service berry bushes.
    I love growing things. Fruit is hard to get here so I’m adding fruits. I’m even trying short season mini watermelons including a desert melon that can produce even with little water and neglect. Since I Iive in high mountain desert that intrigued me. My short cool night summers can make gardening a bit of a challenge.
    My next future project will be a greenhouse or some good sized hot beds. I’ve kept tomatoes underpiles of blankets and harvested ripe tomatoes from under a snow blanket.

  • This past year I really needed another car. I had saved up $1,500. What was available was worse than I’d imagined. I looked at pieces of junk that I couldn’t afford to buy to fix up. I saw an add for used taxes. My neighbor had driven me to town so he drove me to see the taxies. They were well maintained. Many had newer motors and new seat. All had good tires. When I asked for a price I was told $900. Not bad but I asked for a price for 2 of them. $1450! I bough 2 and gave my neighbor the other one. They had lost their business, taken in 3 little grandchildren, and their vehicle needed work. They always took the time to help us. We are 82 husband with alzheimers and me, 74. We need help at times. They always found time to help us. I can’t babysit or help much but suddenly this one thing I could do. 1 1/2 years I’m still driving that car. Same tires too. My neighbor found 2 car radios to fill where the meters were removed.
    That cash purchase has been a blessing.

  • Daisy: There is a lot of wonderful feedback and helpful hints like the one about selling “your fancy car” maybe not so quick is one consideration. Your posts and those by others are definitely worth my time to read. Thank you. One critique is that some of the links you used in this article are 6-9-11 months old. Conditions change; maybe better, maybe worse or maybe the same. The current context would be most beneficial for myself and I think your readers. Thanks!

  • Beware of state-istics. the calculation for food insecurity or hunger is often taking the amount of govt money available, subtracting the amount spent, and figuring how many ppl *could* have been fed by unused, unspent funds.
    In other words, ‘We didn’t have the demand we expected from our estimates, so it must mean there are ppl we didn’t *reach*’ rather than there is not as much demand for govt handouts, and is often used to demand greater funding for next year.

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