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Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping During COVID-19
By Kate Safin, East End Food Co-op

Does the thought of stepping into the grocery store stress you out? It is possible to shop for groceries safely during the coronavirus outbreak. Here are some tips to help you tackle this essential task.

Be prepared
The best way to keep yourself safe is to minimize the time you spend in the store with others. Shopping quickly and efficiently will get you in and out of the shared space of a store. Shop the stores you are most familiar with so you know where to find things. Make a shopping list and try organizing it by aisle to prevent doubling back to get items you forgot.

Minimize trips
Shopping once a week or once every other week will minimize your exposure. Purchasing shelf-stable and frozen items will ensure what you purchase stays fresh longer.

Timing is everything
Most stores have special hours set aside for seniors and at-risk shoppers. You can call or go online to see if the store you are shopping is taking this extra precaution. Mid-morning and late afternoon usually present lulls in shopping and may be less crowded.

Keep it clean
Many stores have stepped up their safety and sanitation processes to help keep both workers and shoppers safe during daily interactions. This includes adding plexiglass barriers at checkout lanes, and wiping down high-touch surfaces, sanitizing carts, baskets, and check out lanes between each use. You should see visual clues to store cleanliness when you visit.

Wear a mask or face covering
Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, scarf, bandana, or face shield when shopping.

Keep your distance
Maintain 6 feet of distance from other shoppers and staff members during your trip. Most stores have markings on the floor, so you’ll know where to wait. Six feet is the length of about two shopping carts.

Hands off!
Avoid touching your face while you’re shopping, and don’t touch items unless you intend to purchase them. Be aware of things you are contacting that may need sanitizing later (did you check your phone or make a call?).

Wash your hands
Proper hand hygiene is essential. Sanitize your hands when you leave the store, wash them when you arrive at home, and before you prepare or eat any food. It is not necessary to wipe down the items you purchase before putting them away.

Try delivery of curbside pickup or send a neighbor!
If you feel shopping is too high-risk, try delivery or curbside pickup for your groceries. When you use these services, someone (usually a store employee) will do your shopping. You’ll need to submit your list and payment information online or via an app. If technology is a barrier, make a detailed list and send a friend or neighbor to shop. We’re all in this together!

East End Food Co-op is the last natural foods co-op left in Pittsburgh from those original, back-to- nature stores. The Co-op offers all of the products of a full-service grocery store, but with a natural and local touch. For more information, visit www.eastendfood.coop.

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