Cities and towns around the country have seen overwhelmingly peaceful protests over the past week, seeking justice for George Foyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many other black lives that have ended due to excessive and unwarranted state force. As you’ve no doubt heard from big-city mayors seeking to justify the well-documented examples of police misconduct and even outright brutality in response to these protests, some stores have unfortunately been damaged or looted in the process.
Thankfully, in places like Philadelphia, damaged grocery stores aren’t used as an excuse to paint all protestors with the same brush, but an opportunity to make the best of the situation in a way that helps out the community.
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According to reporting from Philadelphia’s 6 ABC, two ShopRite locations in Parkside and Hunting Park had no choice but to close and turn away shoppers. At that point, Jeff Brown, who owns both Shoprite locations, teamed up with a local food assistance organization called the Share Food Program to help salvage perishable items and distribute them to low-income families who rely on access to those Shoprites.
Since Wednesday, a team of volunteers distributed the perishable foods, including dairy, produce and meats, at two area locations. To local residents cut off from their usual grocery store and often without access to transportation, it was a lifeline.
“We don't have a ShopRite now and with all of this stuff that's been going on, the looting, we have people that really need food. And they're used to having the ShopRite in the community," said Diane Marshall, a volunteer with the Parkside Association told 6 ABC.
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This Philadelphia effort follows in the footsteps of a wildly successful donation program earlier this week in Minneapolis. After local stores closed, a local middle school asked for 85 meal kits for the families of its students, only to receive thousands of bags of groceries.
Both for worse and for better, the structures that dictate our usual ways of living are more unstable than they’ve perhaps ever been. At a time like this, it’s crucial for local communities to look after their most vulnerable members. Hopefully this ethos can continue long after a few Shoprites are rebuilt.
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