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Long Island grocery delivery a hot commodity during coronavirus outbreak

Christine Gerani, 49, of Middle Island, is using

Christine Gerani, 49, of Middle Island, is using Home Chef, a subscription food delivery service, to help keep food in the house since she's having problems getting any other groceries delivered. Credit: Joe Gerani

Ira Michael Blonder, 71, of Huntington Station, has been trying for about a month to get groceries delivered to his house, but the best he could do was get curbside pickup — from a Walmart store in North Bergen, New Jersey.

Lynn Bass, 53, of Shirley, says she can get a Peapod delivery from Stop & Shop — but she’ll have to wait until May.

Christine Gerani, 49, of Middle Island, says she couldn’t even get on a grocery delivery schedule.

Some Long Islanders are finding that grocery delivery services aren’t delivering, so to speak — causing some to venture into a grocery store themselves. Others are using box subscription services to help keep food in their house or depending on others to make shopping trips for them.

“This is ridiculous — it’s really unacceptable,” says Blonder. “I’m an online person and I believe in social distancing, so I started going online to look for food delivery service about a month ago, and day after day we’ve been finding that no delivery service is available."

Blonder, a sales and marketing consultant for a software company, adds he’s been an Amazon Prime customer for “10 or 15 years,” but Amazon Grocery had no available delivery dates and neither did Target, Whole Foods or a Walmart on Long Island.

"The best I could do was curbside pickup at a Walmart in New Jersey, so it’s stressful because my wife, who’s 67, will have to go to the grocery store wearing a mask, gloves and everything else because I’m working from home and she insists on doing the shopping herself.”

Mary Simonsen, 51, of Bohemia, is disabled and has a brain injury, so she says she can’t drive to a store because she has seizures. She tweeted a picture of someone looking into an empty refrigerator with the caption, “Why is there no food?” And she wrote, “Here [in Bohemia] there’s nothing in the grocery stores and none of the typical apps even tell you when they might deliver again.”

In a Wednesday phone interview, Simonsen said she tried everything from smaller grocery stores in her area to see if they’d deliver, to Peapod, Amazon, Instacart and Shipt. 

“I can’t get anyone to deliver right now." She says the wait for Peapod was three weeks, and she now must rely on her cousin, “who hasn’t wanted to leave her house,” to do her shopping.

"Stop & Shop's Peapod delivery service is experiencing record levels of demand," an emailed statement reads. "We continue to add capacity daily and it immediately sells out."

Other shoppers say that keeping in mind the situation everyone’s facing right now should give people food for thought.

Gerani, who works for an online site that features cooking shows and other content, says she can’t continue to wait for a delivery. “I started last week with Whole Foods and nobody’s had any available dates. I’ll have to schlep to my King Kullen so I can feed my 85-year-old father-in-law.” She adds, “I’ll be shopping for him and for me and my husband,” and she’ll be “stocking up.”

“No one wants to keep stocking up, but you feel you have to now, so you’ll have something for the next couple of weeks,” Gerani adds. She says she’s also been able to keep food in the house through the box subscription meal company Home Chef.

Lynn Baas, 53, of Shirley, a senior court clerk in Manhattan, says she’s been trying to get two weeks’ worth of staples and checked with Best Market, Target and Shipt. “It’s frustrating, but I don’t mind waiting my turn. I totally get it. I understand it’s not a failure on their part in any way and appreciate the people in the grocery stores coming to work and doing everything they can.”

Some companies are attempting to make adjustments to meet demand. 

Stop & Shop's Peapod is "actively hiring and adding capacity as we get more resources," according to a statement.

Instacart said, “The customer demand we expected over the next two-to-four years has happened on the Instacart platform in the last two-to-four weeks. To address this immediate surge, our teams have moved quickly and reprioritized our entire consumer and shopper product experience to better serve our community in the wake of COVID-19. The launches of 'Fast & Flexible' and 'Order Ahead' allow us to speed up our delivery service for customers and ultimately offer more flexibility based on how people are shopping.” Both programs were launched this week.

With “Fast & Flexible,” customers will no longer need to check back for updated delivery windows from their stores, they will automatically be given a delivery range and notified when their order is scheduled to arrive at their home.

“Order Ahead” allows customers to place orders up to two weeks in advance.

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