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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Grocery Shopping Methods

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will cover nonvisual methods for grocery shopping.

Introduction

Grocery shopping independently can seem intimidating at first. Grocery stores are large and filled with printed inaccessible information.

Blind/low vision individuals all have their own methods for grocery shopping, and we recommend experimenting with the strategies outlined below so that you can find which system or combination of methods works best for you.

Whether blind or sighted, we at the Bridges Helpdesk know that going in with a shopping list is always a helpful start! This will not only help you stay organized and save you future trips to the store to grab forgotten items, it will also help you stay on budget.

In-Person Grocery Shopping

Many blind/low vision individuals prefer to shop in person for their groceries. Here are a few ideas on how this can be done:

Shopper’s Assistant

If you go up to the customer service desk, which is usually located somewhere near the front of the store, you can ask them if you can get assistance from a store employee to help you shop. That individual can then walk with you around the store and assist you in obtaining the proper items. Some stores may request that you call in advance so that they can ensure to have an employee available to you when you arrive.

Friends and Neighbors

In college, most students do not have cars. Many students rely upon their friends who have cars to take them on grocery runs every now and again. You could always tag along with the group. Alternatively, many colleges and universities have shuttle systems that drop off near grocery stores, and you could then make a plan to go either with friends or independently. There are also many blind adults who have arrangements with family or neighbors to go grocery shopping together or who pay personal shoppers to accompany them to the grocery store.

Winging It

Especially if you know your usual grocery store very well, you may find that you can easily go in and grab items of your choosing. Maybe you need to ask a question of a fellow customer here or there to clarify a specific item, or you use Aira, Seeing AI, or another visual assistance app to help along the way. Nothing wrong with a bit of adventure!

Online Grocery Shopping

Online grocery shopping was already on the rise, but the pandemic made its popularity even more widespread.

When you shop for groceries online, you will almost always have the option of picking your groceries up from the store, which you can do using an Uber, Lyft, or hired driver. You will also have the option of having the groceries brought directly to your home by a delivery driver.

We have experimented and we believe that the costs for pickup and delivery are comparable: either you are paying a driver to bring you to the store and back home, or you are paying delivery fees and a tip if the groceries are brought to your home.

Some examples of pickup and delivery ordering services include but are not limited to:

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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