Pandemic Food Shopping for Seniors

Find the best option for pandemic food shopping
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Although many have already adjusted to pandemic food shopping challenges, since cases keep rising, daily life will continue to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. It may be a good time to check-in with the seniors in your life. Do they need any help affording groceries? Last week, I posted a few tips on ways seniors can increase their food security. Today, I’d like to share a few examples of how seniors can get food without stepping inside a store.

Shopping often plays a significant role in seniors’ social life. Restricting this activity puts them at risk for food insecurity and limits their social interactions. Understandably, many choose to food shop in person. Here is a helpful food shopping guide from the F.D.A. for seniors planning on visiting their favorite stores on their own.

In my family’s case, many members are considered high risk, so we’ve decided to limit outside interactions as much as possible. At first, ordering online was hit or miss, but we’ve all gotten into a better rhythm of delivery, pickup, buying local, and growing our own food.

Seniors can grow food at home during pandemic. cmckane.com
Seniors can grow food at home during pandemic

Food Delivery Services

Starting with larger companies, check out Amazon, Walmart, Peapod, and Instacart for groceries delivered to your door. I prefer Whole Foods, available to Amazon Prime Members, over Instacart. Meanwhile, my 79-year-old grandmother likes to use Instacart to order from Market Basket.

Although there are many delivery services available, location is key. The more rural you are, the scarcer your options. Check your local grocer. Most offer delivery services of their own or through Instacart. For example, my 87-year-old grandmother in Texas orders delivery directly from H.E.B. and gets curbside pickup from Sprouts through Instacart.

Curbside pickup

Many companies that deliver also give customers the option to pick up their groceries. Recently, I’ve started picking up nonperishable food curbside at Target. Depending on the type of Walmart in your area, you may be able to use curbside and pickup in-store.

Stores offering curbside pickup

  • Local convenience stores and grocery stores
  • Target
  • Trader Joes (not really, but I would love that!)
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods
  • And many more according to this list by Delish
Local sources of food can be from CSA's or own community garden plot. From my garden. cmckane.com
Local sources of food can be from CSA’s or own community garden plot

Buy local

One silver lining to the challenges of pandemic food shopping is the availability of local farms and restaurants. Many seniors may have limited income, but food assistance like SNAP is being accepted at more local farms and farm stands than ever before. I’ve never tried this site, but Farms that are Delivering makes it easy to see what farms are in your area. 

Check your city or state sites for local farms delivering or offering pickup. For example, Mass.gov page COVID-19: How & Where to Buy Local, provides many Massachusetts-based sources near me. I found Mass Food Delivery there, which I use at least once or twice a month. I buy fruit, vegetables, and cream in large quantities, and often, a bag makes its way to my grandparents (or the baked goodies that comes out of it).

It may be too late in the season, but also consider a CSA. I’ve meant to try one for many years, and the pandemic was just the push I needed to sign up with my younger sister. Another option would be for seniors to grow their own food.

Grow your own food

Even though the growing season is well underway, seniors can get involved in growing their produce. For example, on Martha’s Vineyard, seniors are getting home garden kits weekly, even through August. If a senior has the chance to join a community garden, it can help stock their kitchen and offer a source of relaxation and accomplishment during this stressful situation.

In the end, the senior’s preference, plus budget and location, will determine their best way to get food safely. Sometimes a senior may not want people to choose their produce or they struggle with ordering online. Can you go to the market for the seniors in your life? Or perhaps pick up their curbside order for them? 

While the entire world waits for a viable vaccine, food shopping is just one of the everyday activities that we need to rethink and branch out from our typical habits. An article from the New York Times Wirecutter article offers a more in-depth overview of safe pandemic food shopping.

Has there been an activity in your routine totally changed due to the pandemic? Share it in the comments!

Next week, I’ll share how I had to reconsider even simple visits with seniors in my family.

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