The life of an Instacart Shopper during COVID-19

Rev Steve Heather KOLR

SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Grocery stores have been a location frequented by nearly everyone in the Ozarks the past few weeks.

Now, more and more people are staying at home and turning to delivery services like Instacart to do grocery shopping for them, whether it be because they can’t leave their home or don’t want to go out and risk getting COVID-19.

Instacart first came to Springfield in 2018, not long after Instacart Shopper Jayson Maloney decided to hop on. He said when he started, it was relatively slow. When Angela Vose started as a shopper, a little over a month ago, business was slow, but not for long.

Both shoppers say the past few weeks working for Instacart has been like working a nine to five full-time job. Both Jayson and Angela are relying on Instacart as their only source of income.

For Angela, it’s because she and her husband recently moved here from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he was close to getting a job when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Now she says he is struggling, and Instacart is their only source of income. Jayson has his own business, but also due to COVID-19, he is now relying on Instacart for his main income instead of just part-time work.

“It’s been like for about a month now. We got our first alert being told hey you guys are household heroes, we’re going to have you continue as essential workers shopping in Springfield,” says Jayson.

Just this week, Instacart Shoppers went on strike demanding more safety against COVID-19. Neither Jayson or Angela participated in the strike for two reasons: income and care for customers who need items delivered.

Below is a statement from Instacart Found and CEO Apoorva Mehta about the safety services the company has for its employees.

“We’ve also been working closely with our local teams to provide cleaning products in-store and have secured health and safety supplies, which we’ll be distributing to shoppers across North America in the days and weeks ahead.

We are also offering additional support for shoppers who may be affected by COVID-19. All in-store shoppers nationwide now have access to sick pay, an accrued benefit that can be used as paid time off if you’re absent from work due to illness or injury. Additionally, any full-service or in-store shopper can receive up to 14 days of extended pay if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in individual mandatory isolation or quarantine.”

Jayson has a set of protective gear he wears, including a mask made by his mother to go shopping.

“I think it’s all really about personal responsibility, are you going to make sure the carts are clean, are you going to wash your hands, are you not going to touch your face, you know that kind of thing. So it really comes down to how hygienic and how safe you’re trying to be as a shopper,” says Angela.

Both Jayson and Angela say that as the pandemic has progressed, they’ve seen stores only have Instacart shoppers as opposed to regular shoppers.

Jayson says he’s also seen people still out shopping that shouldn’t be.

“Elderly people, people with their children, I saw someone on a breathing machine literally yesterday in the store,” says Jayson.

He urges those people to stay home and pay the extra delivery fee.

Angela’s final word of advice is to be courteous to the shoppers if an item you want is no longer in the store.

“Some of the stores are so picked over that we just don’t have a choice. But we are trying to get your order out as fast as we can,” says Angela.

Instacart in Springfield works with Aldi, Target, Hy-Vee, Petco, CVS Pharmacy, and Sam’s Club.

For more on Instacart, click here.

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