In the scramble to determine what constitutes an “essential” service in the midst of an unprecedented modern-day pandemic, the one area where everyone on the planet seems to agree is food. Despite universal acknowledgement that the public’s access to food must continue, keeping ourselves fed is presenting new challenges at a time when many restaurants, cafes and bars across the country are closing their doors. Thankfully, many have continued to operate—but they need your help. In some cases, restaurants that never delivered have had to become curbside pick-up and delivery-only overnight.
For those worried about the risk of accepting deliveries, Angela Rasmussen, Ph.D. — a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health — recently told Forbes that “there is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by eating food. I imagine that if this is possible, the risk is extremely low.” We talked to an infectious disease specialist and put together everything you need to know to safely order take-out.
As a result of piecemeal shelter-in-place orders issued by various state governors, home delivery of groceries has also surged. On Monday, March 30, workers of the popular San Francisco–headquartered grocery delivery service Instacart staged a strike to demand hazard pay and more protective gear and supplies. The service recently saw a surge of 50,000 new shoppers trying to utilize the platform in one week alone, according to Christian Science Monitor.
Meanwhile, third-party delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub are reportedly causing substantial traffic queues at several popular Bay Area eateries as workers wait for to-go orders to be prepared. The results are the same regardless of the geography, with a drastically reduced pool of options leading to a crush of demand on a heroic but understaffed workforce. Case in point: the online restaurant reservation site OpenTable reported a 400 percent surge in delivery and take-out orders in the U.S. last week.
Fortunately, there is another option that continues to remain viable for now: services that deliver meal kits for customers to prepare at home. Many of the biggest names in this field have only come to prominence in recent years. Ranging in concept from programs that offer fresh ingredients to ones that come with step-by-step instructions for how to prepare a specific meal, many of these services continue to operate and are ready to help you stay fed while we collectively strive to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections by staying home.
Keep reading for a guide to what’s currently available as well as what steps each company is taking to ensure your safety during this health crisis.
Services Provided: Thistle delivers plant-forward meals, snacks, cold-pressed juices and more. Furthermore, all their offerings are gluten and dairy-free with organic produce used whenever possible.
Coverage Area: Much of the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Cost: Meals start at $11.50 per serving.
Sample Dinner: Tandoori spiced and charred veggies, quinoa with herbs and currants and creamy curry coconut sauce.
COVID19 Update: Thistle is currently providing free meals to hospitals within their California delivery zones.
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Methodology lunch: Thai basil ground chicken, blue coconut rice, purple cabbage, braised kale, king trumpet mushrooms, beech mushrooms, seaweed kimchi, and microgreens. So many of my favorite things all on one plate! Trying to get back into religiously eating probiotic veggies every meal to improve my gut health. Want to be as healthy as possible in case I catch coronavirus. Will do a video later this week about coronavirus and food safety. Thx to everyone who ordered this week. Hope you’re liking the food! ❤️🙏🏻 PS this plate I’m using here is available in our Grocery section until we sell out.
Service: Methodology delivers healthy, fully-cooked, high-quality meals with no gluten, dairy or refined sugar. Some of the perks of this program include customizable portion sizes and a flexible weekly subscription model.
Area Coverage: North Bay, San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula (and additional markets).
Cost: Meals start at $11.50 per serving. There is currently an estimated seven-day wait to join.
Sample Dinner: Grass-fed short rib, truffled risotto, roasted eggplant, and garlic broccoli.
COVID19 Update: Methodology is currently offering all frontline hospital employees a 30 percent off discount on subscriptions (new and recurring).
Service: Sun Basket offers chef-crafted, dietitian-approved meals available in three styles: oven-ready (takes as little as five minutes), pre-prepped (no slicing, dicing or peeling) and classic cooking. This company also offers the ability to customize plans based on numerous factors, including gluten-free, diabetes-friendly and Mediterranean.
Area Coverage: Most Zip codes in the United States (excluding AK, HI, and parts of MT, NM and ND).
Cost: Meals start at $10.99 per serving.
Sample Dinner: Pork chops with fig agrodolce and caraway cabbage.
COVID19 Update: N/A.
Service: One of the biggest names in the game, Blue Apron has been delivering meal prep kits since 2012. While recent news indicated the company might be on the verge of calling it quits, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic now has Blue Apron actually looking to hire new workers in several cities.
Area Coverage: Contiguous United States.
Cost: Meals start at $7.49 per serving.
Sample Dinner: Mexican-spiced salmon with cilantro sauce, quinoa, shishito peppers and orange.
COVID19 Precautions: In a statement made to Rolling Stone, the company says they “…continue to closely monitor guidance provided by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other applicable government agencies.”
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Zack Ruskin writes on music, cannabis, and culture. His bylines include Vanity Fair, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, Merry Jane, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Danielle, and their cat, McCovey.