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How to Safely Get Groceries

You need groceries, but you also need to keep a safe distance from others. How can you do both? Here are 3 ideas:

  • Ask a friend, relative, or neighbor to get groceries for you and leave them at your door
  • Get your groceries delivered
  • Limit your shopping trips

We'll dive into these topics below.

Or you can search for grocery delivery, senior hours, and food pantries near you.

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Safety Tips

Here are some suggestions from the coronavirus experts. If you start to feel overwhelmed, go back to the basics: social distancing and frequent hand washing. They'll give you by far the biggest bang for your buck.

If you go to the store...

  • Wear a cloth face mask
  • Shop at off hours and shop alone — fewer people in stores makes social distancing easier
  • Use wipes to disinfect the handle of your cart or basket
  • Bring hand sanitizer and use it after contact with frequently touched surfaces (like self-checkout screens)
  • Touch as few things as possible in the store

Once you're home (or if you have food delivered)...

  • Throw away disposable bags and wash reusable bags
  • Wash vegetables with cold water (no bleach, soap, or other chemicals)
  • Wash your hands when you're done putting your food away

Should you wipe down packaging?
It's not cut and dry. Coronavirus can live on surfaces like plastic and cardboard. But the risk of getting it that way is pretty low. So it's really up to you. Will the extra work bring you ease or cause you stress?

If you do want to wipe everything down, any regular household cleaner will do. Even soap and water. You can also wipe down any surfaces that you put packaging on, like your counter tops. And when you're done? Wash those hands well.


Grocery Delivery Basics

Keep in mind that things are changing day to day. If you have any questions about a store near you, give them a call.

How does delivery work?
You'll go to a website or use an app on your phone to choose items, pay, and pick a delivery time. Often, you can ask to leave your items at your door to keep with social distancing. This is called contactless delivery.

How long does it take?
It depends on the store and delivery service. With so many people using these services right now, it may take a day or two to get your items. That wait could get longer as more people are forced to stay home, so plan ahead.

What else should I know?
With some stores, you'll do everything on their website. Others use a delivery service to handle orders for them. Here are two services to know about:

  • Instacart
    Shop online or with the Instacart app and pay $5.99 to $7.99 for delivery.
  • Shipt
    Shop online or with the Shipt app. You'll pay $10 to $15 a month and get free delivery on orders over $35. If you're new to Shipt, you can get a 4-week free trial with no delivery fees.

Since more stores are now adding delivery services, check Instacart and Shipt directly to see if a store you need uses them. And take a look at this Instacart guide for shopping in this unusual time.

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Limiting Your Shopping Trips

If you have to go to the store, try to stock up for a week or two. Fewer trips out means fewer chances to catch the virus.

It might also help to use special shopping hours for older adults, which are usually first thing in the morning. Since many stores now deep clean and restock at night, you'll be there when stores are cleanest and have the most items.

The one catch with those special hours is that some locations are actually seeing big crowds at those times. So give your local store a call to see if the hours are helpful or not. Here's a list of stores with special shopping hours.

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