MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — No matter how much we are all trying to stay home, there is on place most can’t avoid: the grocery store.

But for some, especially those who are vulnerable, it can be risky to go inside and hand-pick items.

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Most major stores in the metro are now offering home delivery service.

With COVID-19, a trip to the grocery store means risking exposure – or in the case of St. Thomas law professor Rachel Moran – exposing others. “I had a terrible dry couch, probably the worst cough I’ve ever had in my life, and then I had mild chills, mild chest pains, mild sore throat, and a little bit of a fever,” she said.

Around March 20, she and a coworker came down with what appeared to be COVID-19, but the tests weren’t available.

“Once I started feeling symptomatic, I really thought I only have one option, which is to completely avoid contact with people,” she said.

About a week into her self-quarantine, she decided she needed groceries delivered. First she checked Target’s services, but they were not available to deliver within a few days. “And then I thought Instacart says ‘insta’ so they will be fast,” she said.

Instacart, who does third-party delivery for Cub Foods, delivered her food four days after she placed the order. The next time she ordered, it was down to a two-day wait, but because of limited supplies, her shoppers had to make substitutions for about half her order. They would text and ask her preference.

“I mostly just appreciated that they were taking the risk that I couldn’t, so I was fine with the choices they made,” she said.

Moran paid about $10 for her service. But how much do other companies cost? And how many groceries do you need to buy?

Lunds and Byerlys has no minimum purchase fee. Hy-Vee, Kowalski’s, and Target all range between $30 and $40. Cub charges $4 for purchases over $35.

However, there are added fees for delivery.

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Hy-Vee and Lunds both cost $9.95. Kowalski’s charges $7.95. You can also get a $100 year membership through Shipt just like Target. Cub charges $3.99 for delivery, plus a 5% service fee. In each of the cases, personal shoppers go through the store hand-picking items.

Kim Villafona is a seasoned veteran – she works for Shipt, who provide delivery for Target and Kowalski’s. “It’s a great job, I’m helping others, I’m doing something I like. I’m able to make my own hours,” she said.

Villafona is a breast cancer survivor who once needed help getting her own groceries. Now, she’s returning the favor. “It’s an honor to go out and help others in this time right now,” she said.

She wears gloves and masks and sanitizes her steering wheel after every trip. She’s working 40-50 hours a week. As Shipt continues to hire more shoppers, the wait times will ideally go down to same-day delivery.

Right now, Villafona encourages new customers to be patient; the workers are trying their best with what they have in stock.

Even though delivery is in high demand, there are still a few deals.

Hy-Vee is offering 10% off for first-time delivery with the code “WELCOME.”

Cub offers their first delivery for free. Lund’s allows you to use digital coupons. Target has a free 4-week delivery trial via Shipt.

Meanwhile, Moran is feeling better. She’s not sure she’ll use delivery services forever, but for now, it makes sense. “It’s a nice option to have during the pandemic for sure,” she said.

“The healthcare workers that are out there in our hospitals. If we can help them by shopping for them, that brings joy to me, the moms who shouldn’t bring their kids to the stores, the elderly who need to stay home, stay healthy: those are all the people we are serving. We are proud to serve them,” Villafona said.

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The stores also offer no-contact curbside pick-up. Several food delivery services like Bite Squad and Door Dash, are also offering third-party grocery delivery. Door Dash is offering free delivery for a limited time for customers over 60.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield