How The Most Popular Meal Kit Companies Are Responding To COVID-19

With COVID-19 inducing a state of emergency across most of North America, grocery store mayhem and quarantining measures have led to an increased demand for meal kits. People have been staying at home—and cooking at home—now more than ever, to keep their families safe and help flatten the curve.

But before using a meal kit delivery service, there are a few important factors to consider.meal

We’re sharing how some of the most popular meal kit brands are responding to the coronavirus in Canada and the U.S. so that you can choose the best meal kit for you and your family.

Are Meal Kits Safe To Use During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

The verdict is in. Yes, they’re safe – there is no need to avoid meal kit services.

People are understandably nervous when it comes to using meal kit services during the pandemic. Customers are wondering whether using meal kit companies is risky due to the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that, “There is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food”. When it comes to the spread of the virus from food packaging, the CDC, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are all in agreement that the virus is unlikely to be spread from packaging to person because of low survivability on surfaces.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions For Handling Meal Kits

Although the risk associated with using meal kits is low, it’s always better to be extra careful.

Pre-pandemic, we were supposed to be washing our hands, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds prior to handling or eating food.

Based on advice from the FDA and Dr. Farber’s tips provided to the Globe and Mail, during the pandemic, follow these steps if you are concerned about contamination from food:

  1. Place your package on your counter so that you can easily disinfect it later. Wash your hands.
  2. Put away your ingredients and discard packaging.
  3. Disinfect all surfaces where you initially placed the package.
  4. Wash your hands with soap and water once more. Although highly unlikely, it still might be possible to get COVID-19 if you touch a container with the virus on it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  5. Prior to cooking the ingredients, wipe down all surfaces where you will be placing your ingredients. And then, you guessed it, wash your hands, before handling the food.

Better to play it safe.

As usual, give your fruit and vegetables a good rinse under running water but skip the soap. Dr. Farber says that soap is known to cause diarrhea, vomiting and, at the very least, unnecessary anxiety. If you’re doing your due diligence by following the guidelines outlined here, there’s no need to disinfect each ingredient.

Besides all the hand-washing, make sure your deliveries are contactless. Do not touch nor interact with delivery drivers face-to-face.

It may sound like a lot but, considering we should be slightly slimmed down versions of these food safety practices at all times, there isn’t much added effort involved.

Meal Kit Companies That Are Still In Operation

While much of the economy has been hit hard due to necessary social distancing measures, meal kit companies are one of the few businesses that are presented with an opportunity to thrive.

According to our research, most meal kit companies are still up and running. In fact, some are struggling to keep up with the demand.

In Canada, meal kit companies that are open for business, include:

In the U.S. meal kit companies that are still running, include:

Those meal kit companies are simply some of the biggest players in the industry in the U.S. and Canada that have the biggest reach in terms of national availability. There may be many others that are still in operation.

meal kit preparation

How Meal Kit Services Are Responding To The Coronavirus

We’ve examined the major meal kit brands to find out how they are adjusting operations during the pandemic. Here is everything you need to know to keep your family safe and choose the best meal kit service to get you through this time.

Canadian Meal Kit Companies

CompanyIdeal ForCost Per Week (including shipping)Cost Per Plate
HelloFreshBeginners$99.99 CAD$12.50 CAD
Cook itUnique family structures$84.00 CAD$10.50 CAD
Chefs PlateBeginners on a budget$71.92 CAD$8.99 CAD

U.S. Meal Kit Companies

CompanyIdeal ForCost Per Week (including shipping)Cost Per Plate
HelloFreshBeginners$79.91 USD$8.99 USD
Marley SpoonDiet variety$76.91 USD$8.49 USD
Blue ApronCreative cooks$71.92 USD$8.99 USD
Sun BasketHealth-focused$87.92 USD$10.99 USD

Note: The above cost calculations are based on a typical weekly order including 8 servings.

HelloFresh

This meal kit giant has not been proactive about putting their customers’ concerns at ease. They could afford to be a lot more transparent around service interruptions.

Will HelloFresh Deliveries Be Interrupted?

It isn’t clear as to whether HelloFresh customers are experiencing delays in delivery. The company says that they will inform customers about any unexpected changes and that there are no major service disruptions at this time. Customers can expect a full refund if HelloFresh is unable to deliver for any reason.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

HelloFresh has not shared any details.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Hellofresh Taking?

This is where HelloFresh is taking their responsibility seriously. Employees wear facemasks, gloves, lab coats and hair nets. They have implemented increased sanitation and more frequent handwashing. They also do temperature checks daily and ask employees to stay home if they are sick.

What Measures Are HelloFresh Delivery Drivers Taking?

All deliveries are no-contact. Drivers are required to frequently wash hands, wear face masks and disinfect their steering wheels and areas of their vehicle regularly.

How Are HelloFresh Employees Being Taken Care Of?

HelloFresh has enhanced employee sick leave and changed attendance policies to support staff who are directly impacted, feeling symptomatic and/or those who are required to self-quarantine. Working parents have added flexibility to accommodate for school and daycare closures.

Is HelloFresh Giving Back To Those In Need?

They haven’t announced any COVID-related campaigns on their website.

Cook It

When it comes to communicating their COVID-19 response with customers, Cook it is meeting minimum requirements by sharing health and safety precautions. They, too, could afford to be a lot more proactive.

Will Cook It Deliveries Be Interrupted?

Cook it hasn’t clearly addressed this. They have simply mentioned that there is no supply issue currently.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

The return and delivery of Cook it’s sustainable kits, in particular, are temporarily suspended.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Cook It Taking?

Cook it is employing mandatory temperature checks before each shift. Employees have to wear masks and visors. Cook it staff have increased the frequency of mandatory hand washing. There is increased distance between workstations and staff are taking staggered breaks.

What Measures Are Cook It Delivery Drivers Taking?

All deliveries are no-contact. Cook it has suspended their usual signing process involved in deliveries.

How Are Cook It Employees Being Taken Care Of?

Cook it employees who are able to work from home are doing so. Besides following strict preventative measures, Cook it has not shared any additional efforts to take care of production employees.

Is Cook It Giving Back To Those In Need?

No COVID-related campaigns have been announced on their website.

Chefs Plate

Chefs Plate is yet another company that is being rather ambiguous in their COVID-19 communications.

Will Chefs Plate Deliveries Be Interrupted?

Chefs Plate customers may or may not be experiencing delays in delivery. The company isn’t clearly managing expectations on this topic. They have said that their supply chain has not been disrupted and that they will inform customers about any unexpected changes.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

Chefs Plate has not clearly addressed this concern. Customers can expect to be notified about unexpected changes or substitutions.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Chefs Plate Taking?

Chefs Plate hasn’t shared many details around their added precautionary measures.

What Measures Are Chefs Plate Delivery Drivers Taking?

Delivery drivers are required to frequently wash hands and are advised to stay at home if they are feeling sick.

How Are Chefs Plate Employees Being Taken Care Of?

Chefs Plate has not shared this information.

Is Chefs Plate Giving Back To Those In Need?

No COVID-related campaigns have been announced on their website.

couple cooking a meal kit

Blue Apron

Blue Apron seems to be struggling to meet demands. At least they’re managing expectations, making the necessary changes (although inconvenient) and being transparent about it on their website.

Will Blue Apron Deliveries Be Interrupted?

Blue Apron has already had to cancel orders although they are working to get up to speed and meet the increased demand.

They also had to change some customers’ delivery days to avoid cancelling additional orders.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

Yes. Blue Apron has discontinued some recipes while others have often been sold out.

At-risk groups and health-care workers receive (sort of) prioritized service. Blue Apron says they will work to eliminate unexpected changes to these orders.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Blue Apron Taking?

Blue Apron employees are required to wear face masks, safety glasses, gloves, smocks and hair nets in production areas. Blue Apron is following increased social distancing protocols and enhanced sanitation procedures. The company promptly created a formal COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting Policy that covers high-touch areas like break rooms and bathrooms, production equipment.

What Measures Are Blue Apron Delivery Drivers Taking?

Blue Apron has not provided details.

How Are Blue Apron Employees Being Taken Care Of?

In addition to COVID-19-related health and safety training, Blue Apron has given their frontline staff a temporary pay increase.

Is Blue Apron Giving Back To Those In Need?

Blue Apron is empowering customers to give back by partnering with Feeding America. Customers can donate to their COVID-19 Response Fund.

Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon has set realistic expectations for their customers. However, they haven’t provided important details like increased health and safety measures, added employee care…etc.

Will Marley Spoon Deliveries Be Interrupted?

Marley Spoon prepares customers for unforeseen delays during the pandemic.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

Customers now have just one day to edit upcoming orders; this reduction was implemented to minimize delays and meet the surge in demand.

Marley Spoon warns customers that they may need to temporarily adjust delivery days, which will be communicated in advance.

Customers are experiencing long wait times when they call customer service. Marley Spoon says they are getting back to customers within 72 hours.

Marley Spoon may need to alter recipes since some ingredients aren’t as readily available. Customers will be notified of any ingredient substitutions.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Marley Spoon Taking?

Marley Spoon hasn’t provided details other than training staff on protection protocols and sealing non-essential entrances and exits at their facilities.

What Measures Are Marley Spoon Delivery Drivers Taking?

No-contact deliveries can be specified when placing orders.

How Are Marley Spoon Employees Being Taken Care Of?

Marley Spoon has not specified.

Is Marley Spoon Giving Back To Those In Need?

No COVID-related campaigns have been announced on their website.

meal kit dish

Sun Basket

Sun Basket is doing a great job of providing relevant and updated information on their website regarding their response to the pandemic. The company is being transparent about potential inconveniences, taking necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers, rewarding their frontline staff, prioritizing vulnerable customers and giving back to the healthcare heroes.

Will Sun Basket Deliveries Be Interrupted?

Due to the unexpected increase in demand, Sun Basket explains there is a possibility that they would have to temporarily stop accepting orders. Currently, however, they are accepting orders.

The company might change a customer’s delivery days in order to balance orders across both distribution centers. In which case, they promise to proactively message the customer to notify them of any delivery changes.

Are There Any Other Changes To The Service?

Sun Basket has simplified their menu which still includes paleo, gluten-free and vegetarian options. They are hoping to return to their full menu as soon as possible. Additionally, they are publishing their 3-week out menu later than usual to allow for more time to adjust to weekly changes.

If Sun Basket is reaching maximum order capacity, orders by the elderly, healthcare workers or those medically unable to leave their homes will be given first priority.

What Healthy & Safety Precautions Is Sun Basket Taking?

Sun Basket is following safety practices outlined by the CDC, WHO and FDA. In addition to the regular health and safety practices, they have increased sanitization frequency in their offices and distribution centers. Their teams have additional protective equipment and are being distanced during shifts.

What Measures Are Sun Basket Delivery Drivers Taking?

All deliveries are no-contact. Delivery drivers are practicing increased sanitation.

How Are Sun Basket Employees Being Taken Care Of?

In response to the pandemic, employees have access to additional paid sick leave if affected by the COVID-19 virus. And there are policies in place that discourage sick employees from coming to work.

Frontline Sun Basket employees receive additional “hero pay”.

Is Sun Basket Giving Back To Those In Need?

Sun Basket is donating meals to support frontline health care workers and their families through their #FeeditForward campaign.

Which Meal Kit Service Will You Choose?

While some meal kit companies have been very open with their customers regarding service interruptions during the coronavirus crisis, others aren’t sharing as many details.

When choosing a meal kit company, health and safety practices and employee and community care are factors to consider, while keeping in mind that most companies will likely experience service interruptions at some level.

If you’re located in the U.S., Sun Basket comes out on top as the most compassionate meal kit company during the pandemic, going above and beyond to care for at-risk populations, their employees and healthcare workers, although their service has definitely been affected.

Among the Canadian companies, Cook it and HelloFresh provide the most details, relatively speaking, around health and safety guidelines.

Which meal kit company are you leaning on to get you through the pandemic?

I’m Natalia S., mother, writer, dance teacher, and Airbnb host living with my school-aged daughter in Vancouver. I’m the type of person that loves to eat, is fairly health-conscious…but never cooks. When I’m not busy pinning all the recipes that I won’t cook later, I’m wearing every hat that comes with running three businesses and raising a child.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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