Food Shopping and Delivery Safety Tips for Seniors during COVID-19

Sunrise Senior Living  |  May 27, 2020
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As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, one task many seniors are concerned about is grocery shopping. Personal contact with fellow shoppers who might be unknowing carriers can cause apprehension. Not knowing how long the virus may remain on food items is another legitimate concern. Finding ways to keep your pantry and refrigerator full without putting your health at risk is essential

Shop Safely at Your Local Grocery Store

If you enjoy the experience of shopping for your own food and don’t want to give that up, call your favorite grocery store, or check their website. See if they have a dedicated time to shop for older adults and those who are immunocompromised. Many stores are opening an hour earlier to accommodate shoppers who are at higher risk for contracting the virus.

Also, ask what procedures the store has in place for disinfecting and sanitizing carts, shelves, coolers, and more. Does the store require employees and shoppers to wear masks? Is hand sanitizer readily available?

The answers to these questions may help you decide if you feel safe shopping at the store or if you need to pursue other avenues.

Alternatives to In-Person Grocery Shopping

Fortunately, there are alternatives to going into a grocery store to do your shopping. Many stores are offering online ordering with contact-free curbside pickup. Check the website of your favorite store to see if they offer this service. You will likely need to set up an account on the store’s site, make your selections, and pay for the order with a credit card. When you arrive at the grocery store, you’ll pull into a designated parking space and your order will be loaded into your car. No contact required!

Another choice is to employ a home delivery service. You order your food online, and the company takes it from there. Your personal shopper will use the list you created, and shop for you. Some can even text or call if the store is out of your favorite items to see if you’d like to make substitutions. The staff member will then bring your groceries right to your door. They can leave them on the porch or bring them into your kitchen. Two national grocery delivery services to investigate are Shipt and Instacart.

Home-Delivery Services

If you’ve never tried one before, a home-delivery meal service might be another avenue to explore. Some send you the ingredients cut up and ready to cook, and others simply need to be reheated. The article 3 Home-Delivery Food Services For Seniors To Try shares a few additional tips you might find useful.

Disinfecting Groceries at Home

Because researchers still don’t know much about the coronavirus, there are no hard and fast rules for how long it can last on different types of surfaces. The experts are split on whether or not you need to wipe down each package, can, or bag of food you bring into your home.

If you’d like to err on the side of caution, here are a few tips for shopping safely:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. This can help protect you from other shoppers that may sneeze or cough, and from bugs that may be transferred from food products to your hands and then your face.
  • Wash your hands in hot, soapy water before you begin unloading groceries. Most experts say to skip the gloves and opt for handwashing before and after you sanitize your food.
  • Use disinfecting wipes on cans, sealed bags, and other hard surfaces. Don’t use them on fresh foods or those that aren’t sealed. Wash those items in cold water, using a vegetable brush if necessary.
  • Throw any packaging or bags directly into your trash, along with the wipes.

COVID-19 Delivery Guidelines at Sunrise Communities

Like most families at home, Sunrise has established protocols for food items and other deliveries to keep residents and team members safe.

All deliveries of food or other items to a Sunrise Senior Living community are required to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • All vendors must drop deliveries at the front door or in the loading dock or kitchen entrance.
  • Vendors are not permitted into communities or resident rooms.
  • Team members must wash their hands using the proper protocols after receiving a delivery.
  • Communities can receive food deliveries if the delivery person does not enter the community and the team member collecting the food follows proper hand washing guidelines upon reentry to the community.

We know that friends and family members may wish to drop items off to their senior loved one during this time of restricted visitors. Here are the guidelines for deliveries to our residents:

  • Visitors need to call the community ahead of time to let a team member know they are dropping something off for a resident and to arrange for a convenient time.
  • As with vendors, visitors will not be allowed inside the community and deliveries must be dropped off with a team member outside of the community.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, no homemade food is accepted at this time. Loved ones can drop off groceries and food prepared in a professional kitchen or bakery.

For more details about how Sunrise is continuing to feed our residents healthy, delicious meals during this pandemic, read this article.

To learn more about the steps Sunrise is taking to protect residents and team members, please visit COVID-19: We Are Prepared. You’ll find updates from our CEO and leadership team, as well as other important COVID-19 information and resources.