Food shelf frenzy

Posted by ihatediabetes @ihatediabetes, Jul 29, 2020

I'm volunteering at a food shelf in St. Paul. We are giving away hot meals and lots of food. It's basically a food giveaway. But people are congregating on the sidewalks and reaching over each other to pull food out of boxes we bring out to put on tables outside. People are grabbing meat, potatoes and onion, yogurt, pies, fruit, and whatever else we have. We never know what's going to be in the food giveaways. But I am concerned about all these unmasked people on the sidewalks that are reaching over each other. Plus there are many elderly, disabled, and non-English speaking, and homeless people outside with us trying to get food. I think they could pass Coronavirus to each other and/or the staff and volunteers. I don't know the solution to this problem but it's happening on the sidewalks outside the food shelves.

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@ihatediabetes Oh how I can understand. It is the very reason we are only supporting our local food shelf financially – fear of exposure from those who are so desperate that all manners and compassion seem forgotten is keeping us away from our suburban Twin Cities shelf.

Quite a contrast to the one we support in winter in Texas – people wait politely in line, often letting older people go ahead of them. Of course, there each client gets one produce box & 2 "potluck" bags. Afterward they can and do exchange among themselves.

Our Texas church has been fortunate that they have been able to continue providing food this summer – the Winter Texans seem to be continuing their generosity year round because in addition to being "Covid Central" right now, the area was just hit with Hurricane Hanna and unemployment is over 40%, with a heavily cash economy that means many get no benefits.

I pray that some kind of benefits get restored quickly – many of our younger neighbors have been out of work for over 4 months with no end in sight.


@ihatediabetes, First thank you for continuing to volunteer at your St. Paul food shelf. I am so sorry people are behaving in such a way that people in real need and those like you serving them are having to contend with this. I volunteered for years at our food bank but like @sueinmn, now only support ours financially. I cannot risk the exposure nor the deplorable needless stress some are creating by not complying with masks and common etiquette. What a shame that in such a time of great need, there are those who create more problems.


Truly sad. If there are mask mandates in your community, can the food bank enforce those? Perhaps the leaders at this food bank might consider a change to the way the food is distributed? Would it be possible to require the recipients to form a single file, socially-distanced line? Just a couple suggestions to potentially improve the situation.


Hi everyone, I don't think people are trying to be rude. They do line up for Meals and our regular food shelf for people in local zip codes. Then we fill their boxes with meat, eggs, milk, produce, bread, sweets, and canned goods. We know their names, address, and household size. The problem is the no-questions-asked food giveaways that happen in addition to food shelf. I don't know where this extra food comes from. We get a boxes of oranges, or ground beef, or donuts, etc. It's all miscellaneous. So we give out plastic bags and people grab what they need. We do encourage people to take a whole box. But often they took the bus or are riding bikes so they can't carry a lot. Our mask mandate only applies inside buildings. So people are legal to not wear masks on the sidewalk. I actually think we need to do a better job with how we put food outside. I did tell our food shelf that I didn't feel comfortable. So I might end up in the kitchen helping with meal preparation. Then I can distance myself from the public a bit. It's tough work to deal with the public in so much need during the pandemic. That's called a "client facing" job and it's harder to navigate.

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