This article appeared in the April 09, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/09 edition

Italy’s ‘solidarity baskets’ and other tales of coronavirus compassion

Daniele Mascolo/Reuters
A woman puts groceries into a basket where people can donate or take free food, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Milan, Italy, April 9, 2020.

Today’s stories explore the uncertainties that cloud COVID-19 projections, an embrace of autocracy in Brazil, simmering tensions over top-down rule in the Arab world, an experiment in “digital democracy,” and binge-worthy recommendations from our film critic. But first, a tale of generosity.

As stay-at-home orders swept the globe last month, residents swarmed grocery stores only to find empty shelves. For many, this was their first direct encounter with food insecurity. But for 2 billion people around the world, that uncertainty is a constant.

As residents have settled into the rhythms of homebound life, that uncertainty has largely fallen away for many, as farmers, grocers, and distributors have soldiered on to make sure food is available.

Still, the shuttering of nonessential businesses has created a tide of newly unemployed, nearly 17 million and counting in the United States. Even during times of plenty, 46 million Americans depend on food banks. Today those same food banks are straining to meet the sudden upsurge in need.

But another tide is rising, a tide of generosity. 

All around the globe, individuals and corporations are stepping up to help each other. Movie mogul Tyler Perry surprised seniors shopping at 44 Krogers across Atlanta on Wednesday by picking up all of their tabs. In Tyler, Texas, Brookshire’s Grocery is donating $1 million to food banks across three states. And throughout suburban America, neighbors are stocking little free libraries with pantry staples. 

But perhaps the most charming example of such generosity comes from one of the nations hit hardest by this crisis: Italy. In Naples, residents are lowering “solidarity baskets” filled with pasta, canned tuna, and other groceries for homeless people. Tucked into each basket is a handwritten invitation: “Those who can, put something in, those who can’t, help yourself.”

This article appeared in the April 09, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/09 edition
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