Getting groceries during the coronavirus confinement


Long-haired woman wearing a mask while shopping in the produce section of a grocery store.
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Stay safe, be flexible and be kind.

Whether you’re sheltering in place or quarantined, you need groceries. Here are tips for getting them while the coronavirus requires us to protect each other by keeping our distance.

Before you go to the store

  • Call or check the store’s website for current hours; many retailers have reduced hours and the situation changes from day to day.
  • There may be special hours for senior shoppers early in the day; call ahead to find out.
  • If you need a specific item, call ahead and see if it’s in stock to avoid a wasted trip and needless exposure to infection.

If you go to the store

  • Keep six feet between you and other people.
  • Be mindful of your hands and avoid touching your face.
  • Sanitize or wash your hands before and after your shopping trip.
  • Touch as little as possible.
  • Be flexible if you can’t find what you want; for example, if potatoes aren’t available, substitute another starch like rice or pasta.
  • Be patient with other shoppers.
  • Be appreciative of the workers keeping the store open.
  • Use a Consumers credit or debit card to avoid handling cash.

When you get home

  • Disinfect or discard shopping bags.
  • Discard packaging that could have been handled by others, like strawberry containers.
  • Sanitize food before putting it away. A New York Times article advises misting produce with a very diluted bleach solution (1 teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water) and letting it air dry. Packaged foods can be wiped down with the bleach solution, soap and water, or a disinfecting wipe.
  • The same New York Times article also says if you’re really concerned, shower, wash your hair and throw your clothes in the wash. This could be a wise move for anyone at high risk of infection or who lives with someone who is.

Use a delivery service, if available

A delivery service can be both a great convenience and a lifeline. However, in recent days, online grocery services have been overwhelmed. Just like in-store shoppers, online shoppers can’t always get the items they want.

Money.com advises: “Whenever possible, enter your address and look up delivery availability first, before you add any groceries to your online shopping cart. If no delivery times are available, there is obviously no reason to bother shopping.”

Some retailers offer home delivery while others only have pick-up service. Either way, you avoid going through the store and having contact with other shoppers. Here are links to several West Michigan grocers who do the shopping for you:

Keep in mind that many of the drivers delivering groceries rely on tips to make a living. Many are paid by delivery, not hourly. The Kitchn recommends following the 20 or 5 Rule: “Tip your delivery driver 20 percent of the total bill or $5—whichever is higher.” Also, factor in if there are special challenges like numerous stairs or awful weather.

If you are sick, arrange to have the groceries delivered outside your door and bring them in after the delivery person has left.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want. During the coronavirus confinement, we’re available online, by phone and by appointment at select offices equipped to maximize safety.

Federally insured by NCUA

Tools and resources

Find the financial tools and resources you need during these uncertain times and stay up-to-date on our latest response to COVID-19.

Learn more

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  1. kabayan box says:

    Fabulous..such good service.” Thank you… I have never had such good service.

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