Coronavirus: Mum of 16 on the 'devastating' impact panic buying is having on her family

Sarah Carty
Features & Style Editor
Mum of 16 Jeni Bonnell

A mother of 16 in Australia has revealed the ‘devastating’ impact the mass panic buying has had on her lives.

Jeni Bonell, who has over 9,000 people following her on Facebook, teamed up with Georgina from Large Family Lifestyle, Claire from This tribe of mine and Jess from Houseofhoods to reveal that they are all now facing the real possibility of an empty pantry due to supermarket shelves being striped bare due to the coronavirus outbreak worldwide. 

“We have found the hoarding deeply disturbing and upsetting and we fear it’s only going to get worse. We refused to play any part in panic buying or clearing the shelves of everyday items that communities needed,” a statement by the group of women read.

“We didn't 'stock up’; we didn't buy more than we needed. We shopped our normal fortnightly/weekly shop and for many of us our budgets certainly didn't allow for $1000 worth of stockpiling either.

“Now we are having regrets.

“We chose to listen to our nation's leader and trust that there was in fact, no food shortage nor would there be any, this was all a result of panic buying and that it would ease. But here we are - now facing the real possibility of empty trolleys and pantries.

“Large families have been stripped of our ability to buy food in the quantities that we.... wait for it, actually NEED, not want. 1 packet of pasta is not enough, or the milk, flour or eggs or anything else you're limiting (and we absolutely understand why, we do, we find it infuriating as well). We're now forced to go from shop to shop just to find the essentials, often not finding what we need, and if this continues it could potentially be a big problem.

The group of women teamed together to reveal the devastating effect panic buying has had on their families. Photo: Facebook

“Some of these larger families live rural and have to travel a significant distance to get their groceries. Yes, it's easy to say - 'well, shop daily', but logistically, it's incredibly difficult. There is the time taken to travel the often hourly or more round trip, there is the additional fuel to cost, which only adds to an already overstretched budget at this time. These factors should be taken into consideration by our local supermarkets so we can continue our weekly or fortnightly shopping.

“Fresh food prices are climbing rapidly. We're seeing it everywhere. There's no denying it, and yes, 1 small pack of toilet paper just isn't going to last more than a day or so in a large family household.

“We are hoping our big supermarket chains,Coles, Woolworths, ALDI Australia, IGA, Costco Australia - might be able to assist with a solution, to help ensure that our children are not going to go hungry, and that your larger than average family will be able to put an adequate sized meal on the table.

“We're more than happy to present our Medicare cards (Medicare is Australia’s public health insurance system) to you, to show you the amount of our dependants. We're not hoarding, we’re simply trying to steer clear of daily trips to the supermarket and visit on a weekly basis, to lessen our social contact at this time. We want to keep our families safe as well.

“We know a wonderful community of Large Family parents and carers that are really feeling the pressure from this right now (and many average sized families are, we do understand - but that 1 packet of pasta will likely feed your family with leftovers, but for ours, that's barely touching the sides), and we really want to bring your attention to this issue and find a more practical way forward. We need to feed our family.

“We really appreciate all you have done so far trying to keep the shelves stocked and to curb the panic buying.”We are not asking for special treatment, just fair treatment, an opportunity to buy "what we need for our children”.

“We are all in this together. Surely we can find a compromise? Please help us with this.”

Supermarket shelves are being striped bare all over the country. Photo: Getty Images

Jeni’s note comes just two weeks after she took to her account to call out a woman who tried to make her feel guilty about purchasing one packet of toilet roll.

Jeni started her post by writing: “OH NO YOU DON'T. No lady, you don't get to stand behind me in the checkout line in the grocery store, with your voice dripping sarcasm and your crinkled brow, as you "loud-enough-for-me-to-hear-you" say, "Welllll, there goes ALLLLLLL the toilet paper now ….. Hmmmmpffff", she wrote. 

The mum refused to apologise for buying toilet roll for her family saying: “it’s undoubtedly bigger than yours”.

While Jeni said she believes the world is now suffering from a pandemic, she claims there’s also another one taking over worldwide and that’s a ‘lack of manners with a symptom of unkindness that seems to accompany it”. 

“We just need to encourage others to not ‘panic buy’” and to make sure we look after each other,” Jeni told Yahoo Lifestyle.

“There are pensioners out there and disabled folks who can’t get what they need and there are larger sized families who clearly just need more because we have extra people to use it. If we work together then everyone can have sufficient supplies.

“The virus is scary enough without adding fear of going to the grocery store because of the looks and comments you get just buying what you need for your family We all just need to be kind to each other.”