Food and COVID-19


Whether you are practicing physical distancing or in self-isolation, here are a few tips to help you while grocery shopping. This will help ensure you're prepared to be at home and that there is enough food for all in our communities. 

Food Purchasing

  • According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, our food system, including food distribution, is strong and can meet the needs of communities across Ontario. This means that there will be enough food for all, at all times.
  • Try to buy enough food to have a two week supply, in case you and/or your household need to stay in isolation. If you already have enough, don’t buy extra.
  • Don't panic buy, it is important to make sure there is enough food at the grocery stores for all. Many people are not able to easily stock up, such as older adults, those with limited access to transportation, households without enough money, or those who are not able to store large amounts of food.
  • Keeping enough food for two weeks also means not needing to visit the grocery store as often. This means stores are less crowded, which can decrease the risk of COVID-19 for everyone, including staff. 
  • Wash hands before and after handling groceries and packaging. 
  • Try your best to plan for balanced meals and include foods from Canada’s Food Guide.

Keep Your Distance 

  • Avoid shopping in large groups – this should not be a family outing. If possible, leave children at home. They are more likely to touch products and touch their faces.
  • Keep your distance from others while in the store. Stay two metres apart.
  • If the grocery store seems busy, come back another time to prevent larger gatherings.
  • Offer to shop for those who are self-isolating or those who may be at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health. 

Grocery Store Guidance

  • Choose a person in good health to be the main grocery shopper. Shop only if you are not required to self-isolate, feel well and can be reasonably sure that you have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Handle only the items you intend to buy.
  • Use clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products. Use your own bags or reusable containers ONLY if you can clean and sanitize them between uses. Pack your own bags to protect the cashier.
  • Use a credit or debit card to avoid handling money or receiving change.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Know that gloves are not necessary and offer no added protection. Frequent hand washing is key.
  • Be respectful of store employees. They are doing their best in a difficult situation. 

Back at Home

  • Once home, wash your hands well before and after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating, and before you eat.
  • Clean counters and other surfaces you’ve touched after you've put away the groceries. Regularly clean surfaces and cooking equipment that may come in contact with food.
  • As a precaution, it is okay to wipe down non-porous cans and boxes with soap and water or disinfectant wipe. 

Delivery and Take-Out Tips 

  • Follow the drop-off or pick-up instructions given by the restaurant or grocery store.
  • Minimize contact with employees. Stay two metres apart from the delivery person.
  • If picking up groceries, consider opening the car door or trunk latch yourself so the person loading does not touch your car handles.
  • Avoid a direct hand off by asking for food to be left on the doorstep.
  • Use touch-free or cashless payments.
  • Prepay via the internet or telephone for your delivery order.
  • Remove your food from the external packaging and dispose of it in the garbage or recycling right away.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands well for 20 seconds after touching packaging and before eating. 

Note: At this time, food has not been identified as a mode of transmission for COVID-19. Click for more information about COVID-19 and food safety.

View our Grocery Services and Grocery/Meal Delivery web pages.

What should I buy?

Check the list of suggested items below. Take some time to go through your fridge and pantry. See what you have, what you are missing and/or running low on, before you go to the store. This will help you spend less time at the store.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Fresh vegetables with a longer shelf life to store in a cupboard:
    • Potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions
  • Fresh vegetables with a longer shelf life to store in the fridge:
    • Beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnip, cabbage
  • Frozen and canned vegetables, tomato sauce
  • Fresh fruit with a longer shelf life to store in the fridge:
    • Apples, melon, oranges, grapefruit, pears
  • Frozen and canned fruits, dried fruit, applesauce

Whole Grain Foods

  • Rice, couscous, quinoa, tortillas, pasta, cold and hot cereals, crackers, granola bars;
  • Bread and bread products (e.g., bagels, pitas, buns, English muffins) with a longer shelf life or that can be frozen;
  • Flour and other baking products to make homemade baked goods (e.g., flour, oil, butter or margarine, sugar).


  • Canned or dried beans and legumes, like chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, baked beans;
  • Nuts, seeds, nut butters;
  • Fresh meats that can be frozen;
  • Frozen and canned meat and fish;
  • Yogurt, hard cheese, non-refrigerated milk and plant-based beverages, milk powder, evaporated milk;
  • Eggs.

Other Food Items with a Longer Shelf Life

  • Frozen or canned soups, stews, meals;
  • Your preferred beverages such as coffee, tea or hot chocolate;
  • Other flavourings frequently used in your cooking and meals, such as condiments, bouillon cubes, spices, jams or honey;
  • Infant formula and meal replacements (if applicable).

Food Preparation

Take care to prepare food safely, especially if you will be sharing the food you make with others.

  • Cook food, especially meats, to the right temperature.
  • Wash your hands before cooking, during cooking as needed, and before eating.
  • Wash your vegetables and fruits.
  • If sharing food, divide it first and avoid sharing personal items (e.g., cutlery, napkins, cups).

Below you can find recipes that call for either shelf stable ingredients or frozen foods. This may be helpful for those who are not able to get to the grocery store often, or those who prefer to shop less often.


Meal Ideas Baked good and snacks

One pot chili pasta

One pot teriyaki chicken and rice

Rosemary garlic white bean soup

Tomato herb rice with white beans and spinach

Lentil and vegetable soup

Tuna noodle casserole

Carrot potato pancakes

Mujadarrah (Lentils, onions and rice)

Chickpea and carrot salad

Curried vegetable lentil stew

Vegetable curry

Egg and veggie scramble

Carrot ginger lentil soup

Broccoli quinoa cheddar bake

Chickpea and vegetable salad

Braised lentils

Tofu vegetable soup

Vegetarian chili

Black bean quesadillas

Vegetable fried rice

Baked cinnamon pears with oat topping

Apple crisp

Almond coconut granola

Banana muffins

Oatmeal raisin cookies

Rhubarb and apricot bread pudding

No nut granola squares  

Crispy chickpeas

Zesty bean dip


Remember we are all in this together - support your family and community. If you know of someone who cannot access food due to being isolated or high-risk, do your best to help as you can 

North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)