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PSA: If You Need Grocery Essentials Like Flour & Coffee, Call Your Local Restaurants

I shook my carton of half-and-half Saturday and was immediately panicked. You guys. I can make do without paper towels. I can figure out my own disinfectant spray and I can add pasta to almost anything to make an edible dish. But I can't drink coffee without half-and-half. It's my First World Problem, I know. Samantha, healthcare workers don't even have masks, *I know.* But it was the tip of the stress iceberg that sent me into sobs later that night, until I realized our local restaurants have food essentials to buy — including my beloved milk-and-cream combo.

I'm in the suburbs of Atlanta, and our little downtown area has been hit hard with the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing. But my husband and I have found some ways to both support our favorite local businesses while helping ourselves out — and you probably can, too. For us, one big help is that our local toy shop offers delivery, so after three days of quarantine, we had a whole bag of craft supplies on the front porch to help entertain my two daughters, a 5-year-old and an 18-month-old. But the absolute biggest stress-reliever was realizing I could buy half-and-half from our favorite breakfast joint, Maple Street Biscuit Company.

Here's a PSA for you: if you're running low on essentials like milk, eggs, and even chicken breasts, you can reach out to some of your favorite local restaurants to see what they have available. With so many places offering takeout and delivery to stay open and running, there's a chance they're also willing to sell you the stack of bananas that usually go in their banana cream pie or the half-and-half they order for the coffee bar. And often as not they're able to order extra good from their suppliers.

It's been well documented that despite the fear-inducing empty shelves in grocery stores, the supply chain is in fine order. There is still food in the country — plenty of it — and restaurants that are offering takeout and delivery are still getting items via their own suppliers. So if you're in a panic because half-and-half or bread or eggs or produce is low in your grocery store, deep breath. There's a good chance restaurants near you are happy to help.

A bakery owner in Texas told KBTX that customers ordering groceries from him — like flour and sugar — is actually keeping his business running. Another Texas restaurant decided to offer meal subscription plans with groceries — customers just drive through and the items are placed right in their car with the ingredients needed to cook three meals. This is happening all over the country, and sometimes it's just as easy as making an online order. Montclair Bread Company in Montclair, New Jersey shared an Instagram post about ordering flour and other essentials through their website. When a customer commented that they forgot to order flour with their most recent delivery, the bakery assured them they'd still have flour next week, too.

It's a lot like grabbing free meals from your local school district. The food is there. You don't have to panic about going hungry or not having snacks for your kids. You can stay put, venturing only out for a curbside pick-up of apples and milk from your favorite restaurant. It helps you out, it helps the restaurant out, and it keeps you as social distanced as possible.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.