Grocery shopping for others during a pandemic

Photo courtesy of AP Images. Instacart worker leaves groceries at the gate of a home in East Derry, N.H.

Charles Krupa

Photo courtesy of AP Images. Instacart worker leaves groceries at the gate of a home in East Derry, N.H.

Chloe Strickland, Staff Reporter

Over the past few weeks, as developing news about COVID-19 continuously floods in, grocery stores have become a hot topic.

Those who are immunocompromised or simply do not feel safe leaving their homes during the pandemic have turned to delivery services like Instacart to get their daily necessities.

Instacart is an online grocery delivery service that allows others to shop for what you need.

Madison Roberts, 19, has taken to Instacart to make some fast cash after being furloughed from her job when everything shut down, “I needed the money and Instacart is quick and easy.”

The job entails Roberts to simply shop for someone else’s grocery list and then deliver it to them.

Roberts claims the demographic she mostly shops for are wealthy and/or elderly, “I am making money by doing it, but it does feel good knowing I’m helping people who are at risk or are too afraid to go out themselves.”

Roberts does an average of five runs a day and does it two to three times a week, “I could make anything from 50 to 100 bucks a day, but it depends on your tips.” The Instacart service pays Roberts a certain amount depending on the size of the shopping list and the customer can add a tip on top of the cost.

However, Roberts has learned that tips can be used as bait, “Some people list a high tip so that their batch or order gets done faster, but then they will take it away.” Roberts says she has been baited with a tip only once, but that it is common with other Instacart shoppers.

Grocery shopping during a pandemic worries many people, but Roberts says she takes the necessary precautions to keep herself healthy, “I worry more about bringing something home to my family, but I wear gloves when shopping, I don’t touch my face and I sanitize everything when I’m done- my phone, my keys and the steering wheel.”

Roberts adds that the grocery stores doing their part has made her feel more comfortable as she shops, “Some stores only let a certain amount of people in at a time and they don’t let you in at all if you’re not wearing a mask.”

Another notable precaution grocery stores have taken that Roberts appreciates is the markers on the ground throughout the store and when standing in line to indicate six feet apart for social distancing.

Driving to deliver the groceries is easy right now with gas prices being so low, Roberts explained. A trip from Indio to Palm Desert a few times a day does not put a dent in funds as it would if gas prices were at their normal.

When bringing the groceries to the customer, Roberts always leaves the bags at the front door and the customer grabs everything when she leaves. “They always treat me with respect by saying thank you and to stay safe.”

When recommending Instacart to anyone else, Roberts is torn, “I would recommend it because it’s a good side job to make extra cash, but because of everything that is happening right now, I wouldn’t; you have to do it at your own risk.”