There’s been a lot of fear and panic surrounding the worldwide pandemic taking place. While AU students are not unfamiliar to online classroom’s and learning indoors, students still may face challenges when obtaining groceries. Specifically, grocery shopping is turning into a headache for myself as I take many careful precautions before shopping for the ingredients I need. While I have many freezer-friendly items and non-perishables, the need to eat healthy during a pandemic is still important to me and my family. Here are some practical tips AU students can use to keep themselves safe while braving the crowds to gather groceries.
- Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer: it’s inevitable that inside the supermarket you will be touching a variety of different items so a hand-sanitizer is a good precautionary step that can be applied right after your shopping trip. Otherwise waiting to wash our hands until we’re inside the home can be risky and bring contagion to other members in the home. If you don’t have any hand-sanitizer, an alcoholic wipe or disinfectant (Lysol) can also be used in lieu.
- Aim to stay two meters away from other shoppers: while this may not always be possible, it’s good practice in general when running errands to stay away from others. However, recognizing that this isn’t always possible in smaller grocery stores, avoid talking to strangers to fully exercise the recommended social distancing measures (CDC, Clinical Criteria).
- Shop at a time that is less busy: while this is a no-brainer, it’s important to time your grocery store trips at times when less people are shopping. This could be earlier during the day or close to the end of the day. The bottom line is simple; less interactions with other members of the community means that you also reduce your risk of infection.
- Purchase frozen veggies: for adequate vitamin C and fibre content, aim for frozen veggies which will help you fulfill that need without having to run back and forth between home and supermarkets. Moreover, frozen veggies have been shown to have similar nutrient content as fresh veggies with no diminished fibre or vitamin content (Favel, 1998).
- Wash produce with water when you get home: because COVID-19 can be spread from fomites, also known as respiratory droplets that have landed on surfaces, it is critical to ensure you take this extra step (CDC, Cleaning Disinfection). Particularly if you wish to be extra cautious washing them with lukewarm water and soap may be helpful.
- Get your grocery delivered: for some living in larger metropolitan cities, groceries can be delivered via many grocery stores online or via mobile app. However, living in a small community doesn’t preclude you from that. Asking a neighbor or a family member to bring groceries for the rest of the household can help reduce the spread and number of trips to the supermarket. Increased trips may also increase the risk of infection to vulnerable individuals. If you’re making a trip to the grocery store, be kind and offer your neighbors and other family members a grocery run too. If you’re delivering, take additional steps to ensure your hands are washed often. If you’re sick, ask someone else to grab your groceries for you.
- Favell, D. (1998). A comparison of the vitamin C content of fresh and frozen vegetables. Food chemistry, 62(1), 59-64.