April 22, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

The pandemic changed the way we eat and get food

4 min read

The coronavirus pandemic changed many aspects of life, including how people eat, get groceries and enjoy food.

Restaurants began offering curbside pickup, grocery-delivering apps were created, and people started cooking more at home rather than eating out. Like almost everything else, the COVID-19 pandemic changed people’s relationship with food.

Burcay Gunguler, 45, and her husband, Aybars, opened Social Sloth café in downtown Lansing in August 2020. The couple created a space to share their love of Turkish baked goods and coffee, something Gunguler believes is missing from the city. Adhering to COVID-19 standards, the couple came up with unique ways to introduce people to their café.

The café now has some regular customers, but Gunguler is slowly growing its clientele through creative initiatives such as holiday brunch boxes and virtual or in-person cooking workshops. The couple also utilizes social media to promote the café and word of mouth.

“When people come, they like the food and the atmosphere and the service,” Gunguler said. “We want people to eat slowly, like mindfully.”

The café offers baked goods, like baklava and eclairs, as well as traditional Turkish breakfast and brunch. Social Sloth has curbside pick-up, to-go, and dine-in options. Gunguler says the café is nice to stop by for a chat, meeting, or to study.

“After COVID-19, it will be nicer for everyone because it will be the motivation for us, people coming in,” Gunguler said. “If people are open to new things, they should come out and taste (our food).”

Pandemic changed how people in Michigan enjoy food

Burcay Gunguler, 45, stands in front of Social Sloth café in downtown Lansing in. She opened it with her husband, Aybars Gungler, in August 2020.

Like restaurants, grocery stores started offering curbside pick-up and delivery options. More so, mobile and web applications made it safer for people to get food during the pandemic.

Marcie Akers, 67, is a self-employed language teacher who works from home in Flint. She started utilizing grocery delivery options at the onset of the pandemic.

“I have become something of a hermit during the pandemic,” Akers said. “I wanted to be able to see my two-year-old granddaughter, who lives in Oakland County, so I tried to limit my exposure to the public.”

Akers has groceries delivered to the house once a week, and she’s developed a relationship with two shoppers whom she texts to let them know she’s putting an order in.

“One always brings organic treats for my little dog, who gets very excited when she knows there is a delivery coming,” Akers said. “I always tip the good shoppers well; they are certainly fulfilling a need in this environment, and I know their job isn’t always easy.”

Rachelle Kuehnle became an InstaCart shopper in the Linden and Howell areas in November 2020 to help earn an income for her household. The process of becoming a shopper was easy – fill out forms for taxes and a background check, according to Kuehnle. She starts shopping at 9 a.m. and stops around 5 p.m.

Being a shopper is convenient for Kuehnle because she can set her own hours. More so, Kuehnle said if there are appointments or if she needs to tend to her kids, she doesn’t need to rely on being excused from work by a boss.

“The income does help, the only issue really is it takes an entire 24 hours for customer tips to become available for instant pay and sometimes I need them right now,” Kuehnle said.

Kuehnle will continue working as a shopper because it’s fun and pays for gas but more as a side job than a main source of income.

“It’s a good way to make some decent money but use it more as a side job than a main one, especially if you have a family of six,” Kuehnle said.

Being at home more often inspired some people to spend more time in the kitchen. Alec Gibbs, of Flint, started meal prepping at the start of the pandemic.

“We have only eaten inside twice, while on vacation in an area that had low COVID numbers, and outside a handful of times,” Gibbs said.

With hopes of the pandemic nearing an end as state and federal officials ramp up vaccine distribution, some people are keeping the habits they created in the last year.

“Now that I am fully vaccinated, I will likely do a little more of my own shopping, particularly at the Flint Farmers Market,” Akers said. “However, call me lazy, but getting your food delivered is certainly a timesaver, so I will continue to do it to some degree.”

Read more on MLive:

Michigan’s coronavirus numbers are going up, but will vaccinations blunt the impact?

COVID brides and industry professionals consider how the pandemic could change future weddings

COVID-19 pandemic still teaching Michigan schools lessons a year later

9 things we got totally wrong about COVID-19 a year ago

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