Local tips and resources for shopping and cooking, including information on food pantries
The key to safe grocery shopping, whether done in person, by curbside pickup or online delivery is to be consistent in social distancing and sanitation. Wear gloves and masks if possible and use disinfectant wipes as much as you can to minimize the spread of germs. And always — always — wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your face and eyes after any contact. ADOBESTOCK
By Nancy Badertscher For the AJC

The pandemic has turned life on its head in many respects, including how seniors and others acquire food and other necessities.

Metro Atlantans, known for their appetite for dining out, have been eating in, as most restaurants remain closed except for take-out and delivery.

Putting food on the plate at home can be challenging, especially for the newly jobless and those at high risk of the coronavirus due to age, underlying health conditions, or both.

Grocery delivery and car-side pickup services are flourishing.

Some are handing out bonus pay and struggling to keep up with a record demand for their services.

The Publix, Kroger and Ingles stores of the world have been transformed with one-way aisles, hard-to-keep-stocked shelves, plexiglass shields separating customers from cashiers, and blue tape defining six feet of social distancing. Many customers and clerks, on recommendations, and in some cases, mandates, from top health officials, are wearing masks.

Navigating through this crisis requires planning. Here are recommendations gleaned from an array of sources: Ideally, seniors at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 should consider asking a family member, friend or community volunteer to handle the grocery shopping for them, whether it’s at the store, or online, for the notso-tech-savvy.

If it is necessary to venture out, be strategic. Try to limit the time it takes and the potential exposure. Follow the 6-feet rule for social distancing that the Centers for Disease Control recommends.

It’s generally believed that’s a safe distance to avoid droplets of coronavirus that might be airborne from a cough or a sneeze.

And remember that regular and thorough hand washing – 20 seconds with soap and water — is essential as we deal with the coronavirus outbreak, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or going to the bathroom. The reason: The CDC says the coronavirus is generally believed to spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets (sneezing and coughing). 

At the grocery store

■Have a list in hand and stick to it so the time in the store can be kept to a minimum.

■Plan to go early in the morning or in off-peak hours when there are fewer customers. Some stores are setting aside a couple of hours in the early morning just for seniors, so take advantage of that if you can.

■Bring your own disinfectant wipes to clean the supermarket cart or basket before you begin your shopping.

Some stores provide these wipes for free or will wipe the cart for you. Just be safe and carry your own.

■Try to keep your distance from others and use credit or debit, not cash, at checkout.

(Cards can be wiped with a disinfectant. Cash not really.)

■ Checkout options of selfserve or cashier each pose their own risk. Self-checkout allows you to avoid face-toface contact. On the other hand, at self-serve, you’ll be touching kiosk parts that have been touched by many others.

■Most stores are offering outside pickup and will do their best to fill online orders. Some extra charges may apply, and some substitutions for out-of-stock items may be made. Pop the trunk from inside the car for the delivery person to maximize the benefits of no-contact shopping.

■ Due to safety concerns, grocery stores may not be accepting returns or making exchanges. Check with your merchant for details.


Instacart and Shipt are two of the best-known companies offering grocery pickup and delivery in metro Atlanta.

These companies’ contract workers usually go to the grocery store of your choosing, fill your order and bring it to your door. Some previously would bring the groceries inside your home. But most have stopped that since the coronavirus outbreak. Many of these services charge for membership and tack on fees.

The drivers, who also are the shoppers, are working for tips, as well as salary.

Stores such as Target, Costco and Whole Foods are offering customers curbside pickup and door-to-door shipment options. Amazon, as well as websites such as Peapod and FreshDirect, are still shipping no-contact deliveries. Don’t be surprised if some items are out of stock or take longer to be delivered with the high volume of online purchasing taking place.

Food available 

Organizations across metro Atlanta are helping people who need food for themselves and their families. Check for specific eligibility requirements, including zip code-specific help:

DeKalb County 

■ Briarcliff Baptist Church, 3039 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, 30329.

Phone: 404-633-6103; website:

■ Columbia Drive United Methodist Church, 2067 Columbia Drive, Decatur, 30032. Phone: 404- 284-4151; website: www.

■ Decatur Area Emergency Assistance Ministry at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 515 E.

Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, 30030. Phone: 404-373-2300; website:

■ Greenforest Community Baptist Church, 3250 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, 30034. Phone: 404- 486-6771; website: www.

■ Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 2560 Tilson Road, Decatur, 30032. Phone: 404-241- 5862; website: stspandp. com

■ Toco Hills Community Alliance, 1790 LaVista Road NE, Atlanta, 30329.

Phone: 404-325-0677, website:

Gwinnett County 

■ Duluth Cooperative Ministry-Hands of Christ, 3395 Fox St., Bldg. 101, Duluth, 30096.Phone: 770-232-7454, 770-623- 9563; website: www.

■ Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, 52 Gwinnett Drive, Lawrenceville, 30046. Phone: 770- 339-7887; website: www.

■ Lilburn Cooperative Ministry, 5329 Five Forks Trickum Road SW, Lilburn, 30047. Phone: 770- 931-8333; website: www.

■ North Gwinnett Cooperative, 4395 Commerce Drive, Buford, 30518.

Phone: 770-271-9793; website:

■ Snellville Church of Christ, 3025 Lenora Church Road, Snellville, 30039. Phone: 770-972- 6988; website: www.

■ Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry, 55 Grayson Industrial Parkway, Grayson, 30017.

Phone: 770-985-5229; website: 

Cobb County 

■ First Christian Church of Marietta, 569 Frasier St. SE, Marietta, 30060.

Phone: 770-428-3125; website:

■MUST Ministries–Marietta, 1407 Cobb Parkway North, Marietta, 30060.

Phone: 770-427-9862; website: index.aspx

■ MUST Ministries– Smyrna, 460 Pat Mell Rd., Smyrna, 30080.

Phone: 770-436-9514; website:

■Sweetwater Mission, 6130 Hotel St., Austell, 30106. Phone: 770-819- 0662 ext. 12; website:

■The Center for Family Resources, 995 Roswell St. NE Suite 100, Marietta, 30060. Phone: 770- 428-2601; website: thecfr. org/

■Walton Community Services, 561 Thornton Road Suite Z, Lithia Springs, 30122. Phone: 800-943-6768, 770-943- 6768; website: www.waltoncommunityservices. com 

Fulton County

■ Action Ministries Atlanta–Women’s Community Kitchen, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, 30308. Phones: 404-881-6744, 404-881- 1991 ext. 5651; website:

■Atlanta Community Food Bank, 732 Joseph E.

Lowery Boulevard NW, Atlanta, 30318. Phones: 404-892-9822, 404-892- 3333; website: www. (Note: Individuals cannot obtain food from the food bank. It provides food to partner food pantry programs.)

■Atlanta Inner City Ministry—Lakewood Church of Christ, 1966 Lakewood Terrace SE, Atlanta, 30315; Phone: 404-622- 7931; website: www.

■Ben Hill United Methodist Church, 2099 Fairburn Road SW, Atlanta, 30331. Phone: 404-344- 0618; website:

■Central United Methodist Church, 501 Mitchell St. SW, Atlanta, 30314.

Phones: 404-524-4263, 770-907-8393; website:

■Collins Memorial United Methodist Church, 2220 Bolton Road, Atlanta, 30318.

Phone: 404-794-5842.

■Community Assistance Center, 8607 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 30350. Phones: 770-552- 4015, 770-552-4889; website:

■Ebenezer Baptist Church, 407 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, 30312.

Phone: 404-688-7300. website:

■Family Life Ministries — Hapeville First Baptist Church, 612 College St., Hapeville, 30354. Phone: 404-761-6302; website:

■Fellowship of Faith Church International, 2553 Connally Drive, East Point, 30344. Phone: 404-346-1162.

■First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta-Venable Food Pantry, 1328 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, 30309. Phones: 404-228-7766, 404-228- 7746; website:

■Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, 9 Gammon Ave. SE, Atlanta, 30315. Phones: 404-622- 7596, 404-622-7778; website:

■Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church, 1879 Glenwood Ave. SE, Atlanta, 30316. Phone: 404-377-0561 x 238.

■Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry Foundation, 4779 Mindy Drive SW, Atlanta, 30336. Phone: 404-755-3353; website: 

■ Hunter Hill First Missionary Baptist Church, 166 Edwards St. NW, Atlanta, 30314. Phone: 404-753-8185.

■ Maranatha Community Service, 2730 Browns Mill Road SE, Atlanta, 30354. Phone: 404-361- 0835; website: www.

■ North Fulton Community Charities, 11270 Elkins Road, Roswell, 30076. Phone: 770-640- 0399; website: nfcchelp. org

■ Salvation Army–Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 967 Dewey St. SW, Atlanta, 30310.

Phone: 404-638-7220, 404-638-7195; website: www.kroccenteratlanta. org

■ Simpson Street Church of Christ, 800 Joseph E.

Boone Blvd., Atlanta, 30314. Phone: 404-688- 4756; website: www.

■ Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (SWEEAC), 1040 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Lower Level, Atlanta, 30310. Phone: 404-756-1699; website: Clayton County

■ Clayton County Community Services Authority, 1000 Main St., Forest Park, 30298. 404-363- 0575; website: Forsyth County

■ Abba House, 6800 Dahlonega Highway, Cumming, 30028.

Phone: 678-208-2000; website:

■ No Longer Bound, 2725 Pine Grove Road, Cumming, 30041.

Phone(s): 678-431-5164; website: nolongerbound. com/

■ The Place of Forsyth County, 2550 The Place Circle, Cumming, 30040.

Phones: 770-887-1098, 678-947-8825.

Hall County

■ Chattahoochee Baptist Association, 1220 McEver Road Extension, Gainesville, 30504. Phones: 770-540-4233, 770-532- 3371 ext. 22; website:

■ Community Food Pantry, 615 Oak St., Suite E, Gainesville, 30501.

Phone: 678-450-0077; website:

■Georgia Mountain Food Bank, 1642 Calvary Industrial Drive SW, Gainesville, 30507.

Phone: 770-534-4111; website:

■Good News at Noon, 979 Davis St., Gainesville, 30503. P.O. Box 1577, Gainesville, 30503.

Phone: 678-989-6679 or 770-503-1366;

■Good Samaritan Food Bank, 1220 McEver Road Extension, Gainesville, 30504. Phone: 770-532- 3371 or 770-540-4233; website: cbamissions. org/good-samaritan/

■Hopewell Baptist Church, 5086 Poplar Springs Road, Gainesville, 30507. Phone: 770- 287-3311; website: www.

■Joe’s Place–Riverbend Baptist Church, 1725 Cleveland Highway, Gainesville 30501.

Phone: 770-532-1125; website:

■Living Waters Outreach –Manna Life, 5833 Bark Camp Road, Murrayville, 30564. Phone: 678-618-0600; website: html

■New Gainesville Seventh Day Adventist, 1813 Floyd Road, Gainesville, 30507. Phones: 770-536- 4556, 770-531-0060; website:

■Salvation Army– Gainesville, 711 Dorsey St., Gainesville, 30501.

Phone: 770-531-0135; website:

■South Hall Community Food Pantry, a joint ministry of Oakwood First United Methodist Church, The Springs, East Lanier Community Church, Christ Lutheran Church and St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, 4211 Walnut St., Oakwood, 30566. Phone: 678-865- 6588; website: www.

■Spirit of Joy Food Pantry, 5004 McEver Road, Oakwood, 30566.

Phones: 678-3627328, 678-316-9230. 


■ Once you have the groceries inside your home, put them on the floor, go to the sink and wash your hands.

(If feasible, you may want to leave non-perishable items outside on your porch or in the garage for 48 to 72 hours.)

■ You may want to wipe or wash cans and boxes of food before storing them to reduce possible contamination. In addition, you may want to throw out disposable packing and move prepackaged food, such as chicken, to a storage container fresh out of the dishwasher.

■ If you’ve brought groceries home in a cloth bag, wash the bag in the washing machine and dry thoroughly before using again.

■ Rinse fresh produce as normal with clear water for at least 20 seconds, then wash your hands again. Don’t use soap. It’s unnecessary and can make you sick.

■ There is data to suggest that the virus can survive on surfaces for one to three days, but these particles are generally thought to be too small to make anyone sick.

■ It’s also good to wipe down kitchen counters, tables and other surfaces first with water and then disinfectant wipes. End by washing your hands again.


Some major retailers are offering special shopping hours for seniors during the coronavirus crisis. Here’s a partial list.

Before you go, it’s a good idea to double-check details.

Costco: Opening its doors from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors, 60 and older.

Kroger: Open from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for seniors to shop Monday through Thursday. Pharmacy hours now begin at 8 a.m. Monday-Friday.

Publix: Seniors 65 and over have special designated shopping time from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Pharmacy also is opening early.

Sam’s Club: Open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for seniors, those with disabilities and those with compromised immune systems. Also available is a “shop from your car” service for anyone who is at risk. A Sam’s Club associate will pick up the customer’s list at the car, fill it and bring the purchases to the car.

Trader Joe’s: Offering a seniors-only line at checkout in the opening hour, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Walmart: Offers a senior shopping hour every Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.