Comment: Who Should Use Grocery Delivery?

We are living in a time of crisis with fear and uncertainty spreading as quickly as Covid-19 is, leading people to panic buy and stock up on essential materials. A lot of this shopping is done online, through either a delivery service or click and collect. 


This makes one wonder who is most eligible for delivery services? Should food shopping only be delivered to those who are most vulnerable in our community? 


In short, I believe that nobody should be excluded from having their regular groceries delivered to their home, it is simply unfair to deny someone of a publicly available service. 


Ensuring that everyone gets their order is a matter of trying to curb panic buying and checking if people are actually buying the necessities. 


Derek Gifford, logistics manager and delivery driver for Ballymun’s Supervalu, said: “People stockpiling will not be allowed, we are trying to be fair to everyone … the [customer] will get what we think is reasonable.” 


Gifford described how a customer who orders ten boxes of rice may only be given 5, in order to keep enough stock for everyone. Customers are made aware of this and receive a refund for any food not given. 


“We all have to eat, the orders just have to be looked over to see who is buying and ordering them,” he continued. 


Gifford went on to explain how “the priority should be made” for loyal customers, who have relied on their delivery service even before this pandemic, including their elderly customers.  


However, this does not mean that a customer they aren’t familiar with will have their order declined.  


For many workers, this has always been the way they’ve gotten their food shopping done. Some people do not have the time to go shopping in between their other priorities. 


Take frontline healthcare workers, for example. Those working in hospitals and care homes have very limited time to go food shopping. If they were to go after a 13 hour shift, there is a high chance that the shelves will be empty. 


There are also single parents, who can no longer ask grandparents to take care of the children while he/she goes shopping. It is advised to keep children away from places like supermarkets. 


If this parent is told they cannot order their shopping for delivery because they aren’t vulnerable, how else are they going to feed their family? 


That being said, there are still some people who are buying unnecessary items, causing more stress and work for supermarket staff. 


Gifford shared that they receive as many as 100 online orders per day, that need to  

be picked, processed and delivered. Supervalu recently had to make a cut off point of 60 orders a day, as the demand was too high. 


Gifford noted that many people were ordering stuff that wasn't essential, he said: “I shouldn’t be delivering to students who are just buying alcohol. If you’re fit enough to be drinking all weekend, I assume you’re fit enough to walk to the shop.” 


Supermarket employees are considered frontline staff, and rightly so. We should not be expecting them to over exert themselves just so we can have enough to drink and snack on over the weekend. 


I understand that there is a lot of fear and anxiety in all of us at the moment, but if you feel healthy enough and if you have the time, you should try to go to the shop yourself, for the sake of those who work there. 


That being said, I hold the opinion that it is completely unacceptable to discriminate against any person who wishes to have their food delivered. We do not know the person’s circumstances, so who are we to judge?