This viral movement reminds everyone not to grocery shop until after April 3rd—here’s why

·5 min read

As we all look for ways to help those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), there is one very simple thing we can do: Stay home. But even more importantly, stay home and out of grocery stores from today, April 1st, until April 4th. A viral social media movement is reminding people that by waiting for your grocery run, you’re letting the most vulnerable women and children get the food and supplies that they need.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides funding for pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to 5 years old who, according to the USDA, “are found to be at nutritional risk” by a medical or health professional. WIC funds are distributed at the beginning of the month. This means that, in the first few days of April, already at-risk women need to be able to get to a store and purchase needed groceries and supplies for themselves and their children.

In this particularly difficult time, we can all help by not stockpiling groceries and staying out of the store so those with WIC funds can safely shop while practicing social distancing.

If you absolutely must (must!) hit the store, leave products marked with “WIC” on the shelves and out of your cart.

You’ll be able to see “WIC” or “WIC approved food” on the shelf tag. Authorized foods include things like baby foods, fruits and vegetables, enriched cereal, eggs, vitamin C-rich juice, whole wheat bread, canned beans, and iron-fortified infant formula, according to the USDA fact sheet. If those marked items are sold out, and if the store doesn’t offer a substitute, those who receive WIC funds will not be able to buy their most crucial items.

Dallas County councilman Adam Medrano posted to Facebook to ask locals to avoid grocery stores in the first few days of April. Dallas magazine followed up with a story detailing why.

But since then, the request has gone national. People are copy-pasting or sharing their own reminders in tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. In their requests, many ask others to “share widely” to dispense the information. Some are calling for an even longer lead time for low-income and at-risk communities to access groceries. Others are reminding people that other communities, including those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also need time and space to shop.

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PSA: When you plan your grocery shopping for this week please understand this week is a critical time. I urge everyone to avoid grocery shopping on April 1-9th unless you have a critical need. At the first of the month, many people’s WIC/SNAP benefits arrive for low-income families and there will be a surge as these families redeem them. Many of these families' benefits were depleted more quickly because children are staying home from school and some families are going hungry right now. Many of our elders and disabled peers will be getting their SSI and SSDI on the first as well. Please give these people space to shop and please respect their needs by not buying items with a WIC shelf tag unless you absolutely need them. Remember those on fixed incomes can’t afford to stock up on large amounts of food and paper products and often have things budgeted and planned to the dime. #WeAreInThisTogether #StayHome #stayhomestaysafe #stayhomesavelives (This was originally posted by my daughter’s #speechtherapist from when she was in #earlyintervention which she was a part of for the first 3 years of her life. During that time I was on not just #snap and #medicaid for the both of us but also on #wic so I figured I’d share her announcement to help remind other’s that everyone is going through this stuff and we really need to take care of our families yes but also our communities.)

A post shared by Cate Morris (@bipolar2momlife) on Mar 31, 2020 at 10:19am PDT

If it’s not urgent, please hold your grocery run until this weekend so vulnerable women and children can find the food and medical supplies that they need—now more than ever.

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