Worries over panic buying arise as some supply shelves at stores empty out

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Supplies were flying off the shelves Wednesday, with some shoppers taking pictures of empty shelves at stores across Oahu. This comes after a message from the Health Department to stock up on necessities. There aren’t any coronavirus (COVID-19) cases here in Hawaii, but health officials want people to have food, supplies and medicine just in case.

At Costco Iwilei, flatbeds were overflowing with boxes of canned goods, bottled water, toilet paper and paper towels. One shopper picked up all these things and more.

“The essentials toilet paper, paper towels, bottles of water, soap, a lot of clorox stuff, cleaning supplies. I figure with all the coronavirus scare and everything, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Honolulu resident Keane Zakimi.

Others picked up foods that could last a long time.

“It’s always a good idea to stock up with things that are protein items like albacore, or things that have a shelf life that’s a long time protein items, things, like black beans,” said Marlene Nations, a Kailua resident. “Yeah this is just an extra precaution but no panic.”

Panic buying, or leaving store shelves bare, is what the Hawaii Foodbank is worried about. They’re seeing it in other Asian countries and are concerned it could impact those who may need the food.

“If there’s no inventory at the store, then there’s very little for stores to donate to the Foodbank and also at home if you’re stocking up and hoarding for your family, the last thing you’re thinking about is making a donation. It impacts us in a very great way,” said Ron Mizutani, Hawaii Foodbank President and CEO.

Every month, the Hawaii Foodbank helps to feed an average of 20,000 people. Mizutani said that equals to about a million pounds of food. Thanks to donors, they’ve been able to keep their warehouse well stocked, and he hopes to continue.

“We are asking folks to take a deep breath, think about others, not just your family members,” said Mizutani. “We’re still seeing our flow of donations. We’re still seeing our volunteers every morning and leaving every afternoon, and we’re so grateful for that. We want that to continue.”

The Health Department has uploaded a guide as to what people will need to prepare for a disaster or emergency. This includes a 14 day supply of food, water medicine, personal care items like toilet paper and supplies if you have a baby or pet.

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