Grocery Shopping for 50 in the Midst of a Pandemic

A Lamont Homes “5 in 5” featuring Lexi Harris

Lamont Homes is dedicated to providing group homes to Washington D.C.’s most vulnerable residents. We pride ourselves on building strong, supportive communities. What follows is a five minute, 5 question interview from a member of our community: Lexi, our Food Manager.

Question #1: WHO are you?

I’m Lexi and I’m the Manager of Food. Basically I’m the one that figures out how much each house needs for their monthly menu that they’re supposed to follow to feed our residents; I make the menu as well. Every other week we have to do the shopping. In between the shopping and distributing, I’m going into the houses to make sure we’re following menu, make sure everyone has what they need, and pick up things that they’ve run out of.

Question #2: WHAT were you doing on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17, 2020)?

St. Patrick’s Day was a grocery day. So, in the midst of all the corona virus chaos, I had to go out to the grocery stores and get groceries for ten houses to last them each two weeks. Each house averages four or five residents – the largest has six or seven. So, trying to feed a lot of people, and there’s not a lot of food out there; it was very chaotic.

Question #3: WHERE did you all go to get the food?

First we went to Aldi – we didn’t end up getting much there. Then we went to Walmart. They were pretty wiped out of meat and stuff, but we were able to get oatmeal, breakfast cereal and snacks. Then we went to Food Lion, where we found some canned goods, but they were also out of meat. Pretty much all of the meat was gone; there was no chicken, ground beef, ground turkey… it was hard to find eggs and milk. We went to H-Mart as well, and luckily they had some meat. We got there just in time because apparently they didn’t have chicken in the morning, but they’d just gotten their shipment when we arrived.

It was definitely the most stressful day I’ve had in a long time. It’s just complete chaos out there right now in the grocery stores because everyone’s trying to get so much food and, you know, there’s 50 to 60 people relying on me to make sure we get food out to the houses. So, it was stressful, but we got it done!

Question #4: HOW did you get it done?

Patience. Uh, patience, haha. I don’t have much of it, but Al (Lexi’s boyfriend) is more patient, so we kind of just pushed through the day. It was a long day, and by the end of it all… it wasn’t terrible, but by the end of it all, I was exhausted completely.

So just patience, and trying to look on the bright side and get it done.

Question #5: I imagine if you asked most people if they wanted to go grocery shopping in the midst of a pandemic for 50 people they would politely decline, so WHY did you take it on?

Well, we’ve been doing it, and so we meet the residents and we meet the employees, and we’ve developed relationships with them, and they have to eat, just like the rest of us. They’re not able to get in the car and go shopping for themselves, so we just felt like we had to provide for them to make sure they’re eating too, because they’re going to be stuck in their houses as well. A lot of day programs are cancelling, so if everyone’s just going to kind of be in the house, they need to be eating, just like the rest of us.

Lexi did not get to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, but her experience, and her commitment to providing services to those who cannot for themselves, is emblematic of a global imperative for our present times. And that imperative is this: be kind, look after your neighbors, and rise to the occasion. St. Patrick is credited with the miracle of driving the snakes out of Ireland singlehandedly. But if we aspire to rid ourselves of the menace of the moment, we must do so collectively, and with compassion.