Supermarket Superhero: How to Be a Friendly Neighborhood Shopper During the Pandemic
As the pandemic swells, supplies on supermarket shelves dwindle. Like most Americans, you’re probably feeling the urge to stock up, especially in the wake of cities and counties across the U.S. issuing strict shelter-in-place measures. By now, we’ve all seen the viral videos of panicked folks storming stores and piling their shopping carts high with everything from canned veggies to cases of water (for some unknown reason).
While being prepared is important, there are productive ways to stock up and, shall we say, not-so-productive ways to do so. Before you storm your local Trader Joe’s to restock, learn how to be a mindful, friendly neighborhood shopper — instead of a source of panic — in your community.
Purchase Only What You Need
If you check any social media site, you’d think Americans were preparing for the worst blizzard on record — or a nationwide blackout. Unfortunately, the popular response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to buy massive bulk quantities. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Americans should grab a two-week supply of food and water to deal with the side effects of a pandemic.
Respect Designated “Elderly Hours”
With a vast majority of folks in our country practicing social distancing, supermarkets and other essential businesses are looking for ways to help facilitate this measure. Many stores have drastically cut down their hours of operation, so employees have time to restock those increasingly bare shelves. While open, large chains like Trader Joe’s and Safeway are limiting the number of guests in the store at one time, which means early-morning lines are beginning to wrap around city blocks.
Find Ways to Help Others
Not everyone has the resources or ability to safely shelter-in-place for several weeks. If you are not a member of a vulnerable community, helping those who are is essential. The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, and it’s important to look out for friends, family and neighbors during the outbreak. That said, those who aren’t in at-risk groups — folks who are younger, able-bodied and don’t have underlying health conditions — can help by shopping for others. Now that services like Instacart and Amazon Prime are overwhelmed with orders, you can do your part for those in your community who can’t make the trip to the supermarket as easily.
Don’t Panic Buy, Especially When It Comes to WIC Items
Earlier this week, @SuitUpMaine, a self-described "all-volunteer progressive constituent action group working to create an informed electorate," tweeted about the importance of considering others’ needs while stocking your shelves. "When stocking up for #SocialDistancing, if an item has a WIC symbol beside the price, get something else," the group tweeted on March 15.
Be Extra Courteous to Workers
This one may seem obvious, but, given the panic-riddled viral videos of customers storming supermarkets, this one bears repeating. Like Chris, the Seattle-based supermarket employee from the Vox article, many grocery store employees don’t have a choice — they have to go to work (unless they exhibit symptoms) and, thus, must choose between social distancing and collecting a paycheck.