Tips for Grocery Shopping and Handling During a Pandemic

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Tips for Grocery Shopping and Handling During a Pandemic

With the ever increasing requirement for ‘social distancing’, there are essentials such as food, cleaning supplies, personal care and medicine, to name a few.  We know that to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, we should limit our exposure to people, cover our coughs/sneezes, and avoid touching our face.  If you are feeling well and certain that you have not been exposed to or tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.  Here are some strategies to consider before you leave home, while shopping, and when you return home.

Before You Leave Home

  1. Determine your budget, how many in your household, and duration or how long you need your groceries, supplies, etc.  
  1. Make a very specific list of your groceries, supplies, etc. 
  • Some high demand items might not yet be available, out of stock or sold out. 
  • Make a column for possible substitutions. 
  • Minimize exposure to others, set a time limit in the store.
  1. Stay within budget and stick to the List.
  • Helpful to have an online or mental map of product locations.
  • Know and go at times when fewer people shop at your store.
  1. Only one person from household should go to the store.
  • Minimize numbers within store and practice Social Distancing.
  • Lower exposure risks to other family members.
  • Vulnerable individuals may have assistance from one person if needed.
  1. Prepare a “Disinfection area” and “Clean area” for when you get back home.
  • See “When you return Home” for set-up ideas.
  • Designate who will help with unloading
  1. Take your mask and hand sanitizer. Extra sanitizing wipes and gloves are optional.

While Shopping 

  1. Wear a mask. Cloth face masks now strongly recommended by the CDC.  
  • A clean bandana folded around 2-3 layers of paper towels.
  • Use a tightly woven cloth that doesn’t allow light to pass through.
  1. Gloves are optional because they become contaminated the same way your hands do.        
  1. Sanitize your hands often, especially before and after shopping.
  1. Most stores are wiping down and sanitizing carts and common ‘high’ touch” areas.
  • Your extra wipes will be best if your store isn’t providing sanitizing nor wipes.
  • Wipes are like used tissues, use once and toss.
  1. Don’t touch your face.
  1. Touch only what you buy.
  • Try not to touch things unnecessarily.  That means don’t pick up multiple produce items to try to find the ripest one.
  • If you must, put your hands in a produce bag.
  1. Practice Social Distancing, some stores mark it with tapes.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (1.8 meters).
  • Weird trick at check-out, ‘accidentally’ drop a dried-out sanitizing wipe, clean crumbled tissue or napkin behind you.  People will give you space.
  • Not sure or no tiles at store? Bring your own tape measure, be selfish or stingy and don’t let anyone borrow it or pick up one in the hardware section to “try out” in store.  
  1. Checkout:
  • Self- Checkout before you start, ask attendant to sanitize conveyor belt or tray, touch screen, scanner and handheld, card reader. Or use your wipes. 
  1. Sanitize your hands/gloves or remove gloves before reaching for purse/wallet.
  1. Using cash?
  • Carry it in an envelope or zip-lock sandwich bag.
  • Use sanitizer or wipes AFTER handling the cash. 
  1. Using Card?
  • Sanitize hands and card After using card reader.
  • Still cover keypad when entering PIN 
  1. Before getting in the car, sanitize your hands.  Remove and discard gloves.
  • Throw away gloves when you reach home, if you are on foot or take public transportation.

When you return home

  1. Continue to wear face mask and practice social distancing as much as possible.
  • Have family member(s) wear mask(s) and sanitize hands if assisting with unloading.
  1. Sanitize hands: you and any family member that is helping you with unloading vehicle or carrying in packages. 
  1. Place bags in pre-designated “disinfection area” or holding area for cleaning/disinfecting.
  • Do not leave the groceries outside your door, on porch, in garage for days. Store properly to avoid spoilage and pests.
  • Clean reusable bags: Wash cloth ones in laundry. Sanitize plastic ones with soap or disinfectants.
  1. Rinse produce Don’t use soap.
    • Use lukewarm or cold water.
    • Rinsing, ‘spray and sit” or soaking produce for 2 to 10 minutes is sufficient.
    • Buy or make homemade produce wash to remove pesticides, dirt, bacteria, etc.
  1. Use paper towel and disinfecting spray on non-porous packages such as cereal boxes, plastic bags/pouches, zip locked packages.
  • Spray all sides, let sit 20-30 seconds,
  • Wipe with paper towel.
  1. If available, transfer staples or frequently opened foods into clean dry canisters or sealed plastic storage containers.
  • Empty sliced bread from bag into large enough bowl or bread dispenser.
  • Use canister for dried items like Oatmeal, flour, coffee, cookies, etc.
  • Look around and set these up or order before your next shopping trip.