People are rethinking how they shop in the Washington region, stocking up on a week’s worth of groceries — or more — to limit their trips to the store and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants are adapting rapidly to meet the changing demands. Stores and delivery services are offering no-contact delivery services, but demand has skyrocketed, leaving some in week-long queues.
You should go grocery shopping only if you’re feeling well and you’re not aware of times in the past few weeks when you’ve been in contact with someone who has covid-19. But, the virus isn’t food-borne. Experts simply recommend standard food hygiene practices
Before you leave the house, here are some starting points:
- Wash your hands before and immediately after you shop for groceries.
- Wear a mask, especially when you expect you’ll be around other people.
- Bring disinfectant wipes or use store-provided wipes to clean any basket or cart you may use.
- Try to stay at least six feet away from other shoppers.
In D.C. and Maryland, you’re required to wear a mask to the store.
The list of places or situations you’ll need to wear a mask is growing.
Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has ordered people to wear masks at hotels and in taxis or ride-sharing trips. Businesses in the District may be fined if they fail to enforce the rule. District grocery stores are required to provide masks for their employees. Need to make a mask? Here are step-by-step instructions.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that face masks will be required when entering stores. Montgomery County officials have ordered limits on the number of shoppers in stores, and Prince George’s County officials announced that residents must wear masks when riding the county bus system.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has recommended residents in his state wear masks or face coverings when outside, but it’s not mandated.
Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and other grocery stores are offering older shoppers and those with compromised immune systems dedicated store hours, early in the morning, so they can shop without large crowds. The District has extended sidewalks near grocery stores to allow for social distancing.
Be sure to check a store’s website for any announcements before heading out. Grocery stores around the region have been temporarily closing for cleaning. A Trader Joe’s on 14th Street in Northwest Washington closed its doors earlier this month because an employee tested positive for covid-19.
There’s an app to find whether stores have staples stocked.
OurStreets, an app originally for urbanites to report illegal parking and reckless driving, has become a tool for neighbors to report and review what local convenience and grocery stores have in stock.
The app uses your location to share what’s in stock nearby, with sections for milk, diapers, soap, toilet paper, as well as fresh and frozen vegetables. OurStreets is available nationally, but co-founder Mark Sussman told The Washington Post that its practicality depends on how often people are taking stock and reporting in. On a recent Saturday, when people are often heading out to get groceries for the week, 30,000 searched to see what was available, but just 700 people reported on what’s available.
People “have to invest in the platform for it to be successful,” Sussman said. “This is basically Waze for toilet paper. ”
Sussman, 35, said the utility of the app comes from crowdsourcing the stock for smaller grocery chains and convenience stores. These stores often have flexible supply chains, he added, which allows them to stay in stock when larger stores may be hard-hit by crowds.
Farmers markets are still open. And, you can also register with a community-supported farm.
Farmers markets are still open in Maryland and Virginia, but the two states have varying restrictions on what vendors can and cannot do or sell. Virginia markets, for example, need to provide curbside pickup and comply with the state’s social-distancing guidelines.
Bowser closed all farmers and fish markets in the District at the beginning of April until they could demonstrate that they have a plan for enforcing social distancing. Markets are opening back up on a rolling basis, pending their application. The city has a list of approved farmers markets here.
Meanwhile, local farmers are reporting more people are signing up for CSA preorders, or community-supported agriculture. Farms periodically ship what they’ve produced, either to your door or a pickup location. Brett Grohsgal, the manager and owner of Even’ Star Organic Farm in Maryland, said he’s seeing an “insane uptick.” The farm started getting more calls in early March, despite being between growing seasons.
South Mountain Creamery, a dairy farmer in Frederick County, Md., has nearly doubled its weekly deliveries, from less than 5,000 to around 9,500, the farm’s marketing director, Lanie Swanhart, said. For the first time, the farm has a wait list for customers who want to register for home delivery.
Here are just a few farms that offer CSA memberships or delivery for the region:
Bending Bridge Farm: Accepting orders for pickup at its Bethesda farmers market location.
Even’ Star Organic Farm: Available for pickup in the DMV, with one location at the Chevy Chase farmers market.
Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op: Various locations for pickup.
Norman’s Farm Market: Available for pickup in Maryland.
South Mountain Creamery: Delivers milk, eggs, meat and produce in Maryland, parts of the District and Northern Virginia.
One Straw Farm: Delivers around Baltimore.
Or you can buy groceries and prepared meals from local restaurants.
Restaurants hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown are pivoting to offer what people want, staples such as milk, eggs and toilet paper. The changes on takeout menus reflect an entire shift in the country’s food supply system.
“The grocery supply chain is being pushed and stretched in ways it hadn’t been before,” David Henkes of the food service consulting firm Technomic told The Post earlier this month. “We’re going to see some kind of fundamental realignment of how food distribution works. ”
All-Purpose, the District pizzeria in Shaw and the Riverfront neighborhoods, is partnering with Earth N Eats to offer a CSA program from their restaurant. They’re also selling pantry items, such as coffee beans, and make-your-own pizza kits.
There’s a pop-up takeout and delivery store, Muchas Gracias Mercadito, in Northwest Washington. The store offers groceries and prepared food, including family taco platters. And Big Bear Cafe, in D.C’s Bloomingdale neighborhood, is now selling granola, brown rice, flour and other pantry items, as well as catered family meals.
For other restaurants offering groceries for sale, read the list here.
What you need to know: FAQ | When might restrictions ease? | What a stay-at-home order means for the area | How to get tested | What you can (and cannot) do outside in the region? | Stimulus checks, unemployment, retirement and more | Make your own fabric mask
Who we’ve lost: Telling the stories of the victims of covid-19