COVID-19 Mutual Aid Handling & Delivery Instructions
These are guidelines for any designated food purchasers (“buyers”) or grocery deliverers (“runners”) that will be assisting with COVID-19 mutual aid work.
Universal Guidelines for buying or running groceries.
- Take your temperature before heading to buy or run groceries. If you have an elevated temperature or feel sick, you MUST notify another organizer as soon as possible to look for someone else to take your shift.
- Assume you have the virus and are contagious and are dropping off groceries for an immunosuppressed person.
- When in doubt, wash your hands. If facilities are unavailable to wash your hands, use 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When moving between locations, like from a store to a car, if you do not have gloves you should sanitize your hands.
- Some markets have started to stock hand sanitizer stations, but it is recommended to keep your own on you as we shouldn’t rely on these being stocked, let alone present.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while buying and running groceries.
- Masks: due to nationwide shortages of both N95 and Surgical masks, homemade masks will need to be used. Instructions for makeshift masks with items you have on hand can be found in the Equipment Section
- Homemade masks do not have the same filtering effect as N95 or Surgical masks. While wearing them if you fell the need to sneeze or cough, do so into your elbow.
- For anyone with facial hair, CDC and NIOSH facial hair guidelines should be followed to ensure a proper seal for masks. If a religious practice requires facial hair, it is recommended that you select a style that is compatible with both your religion and the facial hair guidelines.
- When using homemade masks, remove it immediately upon returning to your home
- Gloves: when buying and running groceries, you should wear gloves to minimize cross contamination. Gloves should be cycled moving between locations, when touching contaminated surfaces, or when touching your face.
- Hair: If you have medium to long hair, you should tie it up, ideally in a bun to minimize needing to adjust it while you are handling groceries. A hat should be worn as this will help with minimizing the desire to touch or adjust hair.
Currently our budget restriction is between $50-75 per household. Please try to keep purchases in this range as we want to be able to provide for as many families as possible.
- Sanitize handles of shopping carts before utilizing them for shopping. With a disinfectant wipe, thoroughly wipe the handles and wait 10 minutes before proceeding into the store.
- You should use single use plastic bags for produce. After tying up the bag, grab a second bag and put the tied items in that bag, to ensure one protective layer of plastic between the items and between a shopping cart. Do not keep produce loose in your cart and put them into a bag during purchasing.
- You should keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other shoppers. This may be difficult due to the number of customers in the store or a store’s size, but taking your time and minimizing distance is key to keeping the recipients of the groceries safe.
- When purchasing, try to double bag items as you’re buying them. In locations like Jersey City and Hoboken where a plastic shopping bag ban is in place, you will need to purchase shopping bags. Same procedures as outlined for produce apply here.
- If possible, use a card or contactless payment to minimize needing to handle cash. It helps to take your card out ahead of time and placing it in a pocket so you do not need to open up a purse or wallet.
Grocery Storage guidelines
- Ideally, buying and delivery of items should be done on the same day to minimize additional contamination and due to lack of storage spaces in people’s homes in Hudson County.
- If you must store groceries between deliveries, keep groceries in the outer bag and store them in a low traffic area in your home if possible such as closet space or on top of kitchen cabinets. If you have animals at home, keep them away from the groceries as these are going to households that may have pet allergies. Keep perishables such as eggs and milk in your fridge, or buy them on a second trip before heading to drop off groceries to the recipient.
- Before dropping off groceries make contact with the recipient to ensure they are home and to provide an estimate of when you’ll be able to arrive
- You should practice six feet of separation with others as you head to drop off groceries if you’re traveling by foot or by personal bicycle
- You should keep your mask and gloves on at all times between leaving your home and arriving at a delivery location
- Place deliveries outside of the recipients home, such as on a stoop. Take a photo of the groceries and submit it to the Signal group letting them know which delivery was done so an admin can note it as such.
- Once deliveries are placed, move at least six feet away (such as the door to the building next door or back up to where cars are parked in the street) from where the groceries are placed
- Once you are at least six feet away, remove one of your gloves and call the recipient to let them know you placed the items outside and they should get them. If you have not sanitized your phone before making this run, it should be considered a contaminated surface and you will need to sanitize or wash your hands again before making another run. It is recommended you make the call to the recipient on speakerphone or with a headset to minimize contact of a dirty phone surface with your face.
- Wait for the recipient to pick up the groceries and make visual confirmation they are grabbing the groceries. If they are interested in having a conversation, mention other work MATCH does such as our tenant canvassing efforts.
- You need to get a receipt to get reimbursed! 100% of the money raised by MATCH for this action will go directly to the individuals reaching out for assistance in the form of the supplies being dropped off. Make sure you ask for a receipt if you don’t get one!
- Take a photo of the receipt and submit it to the Signal group so we can itemize it and return payment to you directly.
- MATCH as a group believes due to the nationwide shortage of N95 and Surgical masks, these should end up in the hands of healthcare providers first until they have what they need. If you already have these items, feel free to use them however we highly encourage donation of any unopened boxes of N95 or Surgical masks to groups delivering these to healthcare providers.
- Homemade mask instructions from a local Jersey City artist can be found here. This includes instructions for making masks with a sewing machine and a “no sew” mask
- A mask can be fashioned from a bandana or cloth napkin and hair ties. A good guide for this can be found here
- Recommended materials to make masks can be found here. In short, select a material from this list you have on hand, then select one that provides good breathability and blocks the most particles. Breathability is key, if the mask gets too hot or is hard to breathe through you’re more likely to touch your face or adjust the mask while you’re outside.
- If you have a washer at home: throw it into the washer on hot with color safe bleach or soap and line dry. If you have a dryer, run it through a cycle on high in a lingerie bag. If you don't have access to a dryer, put it on a window or a clothesline in the sun
- If you do not have a washer at home: throw it into a bucket or mixing bowl with hot water and soap, soak it for 10-15 minutes, moving it around in the water frequently to agitate the cloth. After 10 minutes, start scrubbing with your hands, especially on areas where your mouth or nose touched. After this is done, gently wring out excess water from the cloth and line dry similar to above
- Alternatives to line drying: throw into an oven (conventional or toaster) at a low temperature (sub 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes, moving the cloth around every now and then. Checking on it frequently. Do not let the mask touch the heating element directly, this is a fire hazard!
- Wear a new pair of gloves each time you leave a store, exit a car, touch a phone, exit your home, or when you are handling grocery bags. If you have to take more than a second to remember what you touched with your current pair of gloves, it’s time to change them!
- Practice safe removal of gloves to ensure you do not contaminate your hands
- Dispose of gloves in a garbage can (not the ground!)
- Mutual Aid Disaster Relief released a very comprehensive document which can be found here. This covers everything from handling food to handwashing and everything in between.
- CDC Homemade Mask guidelines