Groceries in the time of COVID: Ideas?

Because of the "stay at home order", my project at this time is helping to get groceries to residents in our community who live alone, do not drive, and are not tech savvy.  It is surprising how many are in this group.

Currently I'm placing their orders on my account. The order is delivered to me, and I take it to them. I leave it at their door, and they send me a check.

I would welcome any ideas for how to do this more efficiently.

Sent by email from: Marcia W.

8 thoughts on “Groceries in the time of COVID: Ideas?”

  1. A couple of suggestions. We

    A couple of suggestions. We have gone through a similar situation. The ways we are trying to streamline things relate to the money and to the ordering. Whether these ideas will work will depend on the tech savvyness of the person of course.

    1. We have tried various online approaches (eg Paypal, Venmo, Online bank transfer) as a way to get payment from the people for whom we are buying groceries. While there is a bit of setting up required, once that is done we just send them the bill for each order and they send payment. No checks needed. Of course, you need to trust each other.

    2. We are trying to get the people who need the groceries to set up their own account and place their own orders. But some are managing better than others.

    It's also interesting to swap notes about the different delivery services. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are finding delays, and a lack of delivery slots at present (March 28th 2020).

  2. I am my 85 year old Mom’s

    I am my 85 year old Mom's "banker." She has mild-to-moderate dementia and lives in Texas 1 mile away from my brother and sister-in-law. We moved her to her current home in Corpus (she lives alone) from Fredericksburg, TX last April after she had a spell that revealed the extent of her dementia. 

    I live in Minneapolis, MN.

    I'll just relay her situation, which has been working OK for the past year, but we're monitoring closely.

    Pre-COVID: 3 times a week, she had a Home Instead care giver take her to the grocery store and other shopping and Mom would use her debit card to pay for her own groceries. I take care of the other bills remotely (autopay, having checks sent from her bank account, pay myself and reimburse myself) and attend carefully to her account.

    Since COVID, my brother and sister-in-law get Mom's groceries themselves. They don't use Paypal right now, but sis-in-law has in years past. She reports to me what they spent, and, from Mom's bank account, I send them a check. The check takes about 7 days to get to them.

    Other than that, I pay her yard man via PayPal from my own account. Mom has been VERY reluctant to paid over the internet – so I just say – fine, I'll pay them for you and reimburse myself.

    She's gradually getting over that – as she's discovered she can call me to place her Domino's Pizza order and that's just amazing to her!!!

    I intend to suggest my sister-in-law stop accepting cash for her dog-grooming service – she's very careful about social distancing and safe handling of the dogs – but then she handles cash – which really isn't ideal in this world. She should probably use both PayPal and Venmo to accomodate her customers. When/if she does that, I'll begin reimbursing their "mom expenses" via PayPal or Venmo.


    • Just need to make a comment

      Just need to make a comment about my experience with Venmo. I have used PayPal for quite some time and added Venmo. It surprised me how people do not adjust their privacy settings, and I could see so many transactions. Then my account was debited twice on the same day for a payment of over $200. It was literally impossible to reach Customer Support, which I don't even think they have. After several weeks of trying, I finally reached out to my bank. I was able to get the transaction reversed, but that also took time for the bank to investigate. I closed my Venmo account. I've heard about Zelle and plan to look into it. 

  3. Parents of a couple of my

    Parents of a couple of my students have started paying me via Zelle, which I just learned is being adopted by my dad's "local" bank, too (Bank of Colorado).  I've accessed Zelle via Ally, Citibank, and CapitalOne, as well.  All you need to do is connect through the bank with someone's email address.  One difference from Paypal (which I also accept) is that the payer doesn't have to link the Zelle account.  In fact, you're not even really creating a Zelle account, just using another serice to pay people.  Another difference, for the recipient, is that the money goes directly to my account, no logging in to PayPal and extracting the money to my checking account. 

  4. I am a geriatric care manager

    I am a geriatric care manager (Aging Life Care manager) helping my homebound, not-tech-savvy clients to order groceries, primarily using Instacart (I was using Whole Foods through Amazon, but they are so overwhelmed they don't even allow us to order through the webiste anymore until we receive a otification that there is "space available"). I did not feel comfortable using my personal Instacart account and payment method (although I am reimbused through my company). I have been setting up client accounts, separate from mine, using their credit card numbers (I find even my oldest clients have a credit card). They call me to "place an order" and I order for them, reminding them that there is likely to be a delay of 1-3 days during COVID-19. If a client lives with cognitive challenges that do not allow him/her to remember to call me, I will call and ask what they need. For some clients, I have created a paper grocery "checklist" which I snail mailed to them that allows them to check off what they need (usually staples) as their supply dwindles, so they can just read it to me over the phone. I recognize than not every communit has Instacart, Shipt, or similar. My parents who live in a rural part of Idaho do have access to an area senior center (call the Area Agency on Aging in your loved one's community to find out where senior centers are located) and the meals they would have received at the senior center are being delivered by volunteers to their homes, like Meals on Wheels. This does not solve the problem of getting toiletries, etc. but in smaller communities, volunteers may be willing to do small shopping trips to deliver items along with the meals.

  5. Our rural community is in a
    Our rural community is in a mountain resort area. Due to the number of seniors a group of us formed a coalition and worked with Office on Aging to get boxes of staples and paper goods delivered through Habitat for Humanity. The team then found a grocery wholesaler that was Willing to divert boxes of food from larger food pantries to our organization consisting of fresh veg, fruit, dairy and donations. Our group rents a truck and arranged for drop off to seniors. Seniors can call into our community line and request virtual or phone visits or to have someone to pickup meds or pet supplies. We did this because there is limited delivery to our small grocery store and Instacart will not deliver to the mountains. Many seniors enjoyed working on mask projects and participating in group calls. Most do not have family here on the “Hill”. Now that there are tourists with no masks swarming the town for camping and day use it appears the supports we put in place will help elders continue to self isolate for safety. The nearest hospital is 50 miles down a two lane mountain road

  6. Back in March, I started
    Back in March, I started exploring grocery delivery and safe pick-up options. I found that local grocery stores and national chains, which had never offered delivery before were overwhelmed. Their websites were excruciatingly slow, often crashed for hours at a time, and delivery and safe pick-up dates and time slots were limited. Fast forward a few months and everything is very slick. I have regular, or flexible time slots and I get an email if substitutions are ever necessary. I also use an organic, delivery only warehouse for produce. They already knew how to do delivery – all they had to do was hire more staff and buy extra totes when the Covid rush began! In each case, I find the delivery charges very reasonable.
    So what I want to say is that if you tried any of these options early on in the pandemic and gave up in frustration, give them another go!
    Marilyn in Canada