For those most at risk of serious complications from COVID-19 who need food, heading into a grocery store is not an option.

But some are starting to get desperate, as grocery deliver services in Victoria during the crisis have become overwhelmed.

“Online shopping is essential for me,” said Marianne Leenaerts, who is at home isolating as she is immunocompromised.

“I have to strictly self-isolate. And unfortunately, those services are unavailable at this point in the Victoria area.”

Large chains like Save-on-Foods or Sobeys owned Thrifty Foods are unable to keep up to the large volume of new delivery orders.

Leenaerts says they need to step up, and as someone with a PhD in health information systems, she says better services could help avoid a bigger problem.

“It is not an issue that occurred last night, it has been going on for days, if not weeks,” she said.

“There is no end in sight… these people are at higher risk of complications, if they contract COVID-19 they will overwhelm the health care system.”

Grocers who have not set up a system say it’s a giant leap to try.

“It’s almost like we are setting up our own delivery company,” said Craig Cavin, director of operations on south Vancouver Island for Country Grocer.

“We need trucks, we need the people, the infrastructure, the website, all of it. At this time it is too much to throw together on a whim… there’s nothing more than what we want to do than to help out.”

But there is a temporary solution.

“There seem to be lots of different groups willing to help out people in those situations,” Cavin added.

The province has also opened up their 2-1-1 phone service for seniors to connect with volunteers, from just Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver to all of B.C.

Those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 might then have to rely on the community to get their food. But there are some concerns with this. Particularly with how to keep these people safe.

If you are going to volunteer on one of these initiatives it’s recommended you take extra steps like stepping up your sanitization.

If you are going to drop off, you should also make sure to connect ahead to and drop it off in a place that makes them feel comfortable.

“The person who delivered to me didn’t leave the bags at the door,” said Leenaerts.

‘The person entered my home. I had to ask him to self distance and he didn’t seem concerned.”

That scary experience was with one of the major chains. So if you do go to help, make sure to take those extra precautions.

Julian Kolsut