Ethical eating: Is food delivery OK during a pandemic?

The moral obligation to help each other during a crisis like this is crucial. But sometimes, the ethical choice isn’t clear.

Heeding the call to shelter in place, many people are ordering the delivery of food and groceries. However, workers at supermarkets and restaurants, as well as an army of delivery people, have to go out and risk their own health to provide services for others. Is it ethical to order food or other items from our favorite stores and restaurants at this time through delivery apps such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Instacart?

Ordering, even in normal times, is often economically motivated and more convenient for most people: why spend time cooking dinner when you have a million other things to do to take care of your family or keep your job? But now, many people are also ordering deliveries online to limit their own exposure to the virus. While this could be seen as selfish, the fewer people who go out and catch or spread the virus, the better.

In addition, it is generous and genuine to help those in the community who would otherwise be out of work. As a result of the economic impact of COVID-19, up to 7.5 million businesses are at risk of closing if this pandemic continues. 56.9 percent of businesses have lost over 75 percent
of their revenue, according to Vox. COVID-19 has also caused more than eight million restaurant employees to be laid off as businesses try to decrease the number of workers they have in their stores.

By ordering food delivery, customers are helping workers keep their jobs and, in turn, provide for
their own families. Take-out doesn’t just give your family with a tasty and convenient meal; it helps stimulate the economy and keep food in other families’ kitchens.

This story was featured in The Lion’s Tale’s June 2020 magazine.