COVID-19

Older volunteers are a key part of the food bank economy

Alli Fam Jul 23, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
SDI productions
COVID-19

Older volunteers are a key part of the food bank economy

Alli Fam Jul 23, 2020
Heard on:
SDI productions
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The demand for services provided by food banks across the country has risen in this pandemic. For many food banks, older volunteers play a key role. When Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of the hunger-relief charity Feeding America, in April, she told Ryssdal that “the majority of our 2 million volunteers in normal times are over 70 years old.”

She explained that she would never want a volunteer to risk their own health during the pandemic to come in, but the loss of many older volunteers was causing “an additional headwind for us.”

Joyce Idema is an 86-year-old retired resident of Sante Fe, New Mexico, who began volunteering for her local Food Bank, the Food Depot, during the pandemic. Idema said she was motivated to do so after reading in her local newspaper that “the demand for food in Sante Fe was so enormous that they couldn’t keep up with the preparation and distribution of food.”

She decided that since she was “in perfect health,” this “was something good” she could do. In the month of April, the Food Depot distributed over 1 million pounds of food to people in Northern New Mexico, which is more than double its normal monthly distribution. Idema has been volunteering several days a week and plans to keep coming back. She feels very safe at the Food Bank, as volunteers are able to social distance, wear masks and gloves, and work stations are routinely sanitized.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story. Let us know how your economy is doing using the form below, and your story may be featured on a future edition of “My Economy.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More

Collapse

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.