I was overjoyed to discover last semester that AmazonFresh expanded their service area and was now available in Washington DC/Northern Virginia. I've been able to keep healthy snacks and frozen food for when I get stuck in my apartment thanks to this service, and it has been invaluable to me as a college student with a disability. Here are some reasons I enjoy using it.
How it works
AmazonFresh is a service available in select cities that allows users to have unlimited grocery deliveries (minimum purchase of $40) for $15 a month in addition to their Prime membership (Prime Student also counts). Users can choose from thousands of different products to add to their order- things like yogurt, fresh strawberries, dried pasta, ice cream, and pantry staples, all at prices comparable to what they would be at the store. After all of the items are chosen, the user can reserve a two-hour window in which the groceries will be delivered to their door in special insulated bags. While there is an option to just leave the packages by the door, I'm on a college campus and use the attended delivery option, meeting the courier outside my building (side note- I write that I use a blindness cane and that the courier should yell my name or some other way to get my attention, instead of just waving). I then bring the items inside using a hand cart and put them away. The courier is happy to help bring in items if needed.
My groceries are here!
Having low vision, I often rely on public transportation in order to get where I need to go. However, it's very difficult to schedule a grocery trip when the bus only stops at the grocery store every 45 minutes, and carrying groceries back on the bus, along with a blindness cane, is not a pleasant experience. Walking a mile to the grocery store and attempting to carry back groceries, even with a human guide, is more frustrating. With AmazonFresh, I can shop anytime and schedule deliveries for as soon as the next day. For my most recent order, I ordered items at 11 PM and I had them in my hands by 10 AM the next morning.
No expired food
I can't always read expiration dates very well, so I often buy food that expires quickly by mistake. All of the food that has been delivered to me by AmazonFresh has been well within its expiration date. Cold food arrives cold, no issues with thawing while they are in the coolers.
Refrigerated items in their cooler, featuring my hand.
Nothing gets crushed
In my rush to pack groceries at the store, I've often squished food, and one time managed to explode coconut water all over my other items. Everything is packed in the coolers carefully, and they use extra coolers if needed to keep food that is easily crushed separate. In my order today, I received three coolers, with one cooler dedicated to coconut water and juice boxes that could be crushed under the weight of other items.
No getting lost in the store
My friend and I were at the store when we realized we had to find something in another aisle, and we didn't communicate which aisle we thought it was. Next thing we knew, we were far apart and I couldn't find them, and I also couldn't find the item we were looking for to begin with. After that experience, my friend found a complimentary balloon and tied it to my wrist so I could be found easily.
With AmazonFresh, there is no store to get lost in, as everything is online. Everything is organized easily by category, and users can search for items easily using the search bar. I was able to find most of the brands I enjoy, while trying new things at the same time. Some people have complained about the limited section, but I've never had a problem with it.
Less risk of injury
Since I have limited peripheral vision, the amount of times I've run feet over with shopping carts is very high, as is the number of times I've crashed the cart into edges of the aisle. For people with chronic illness or mobility impairments, AmazonFresh can allow them to shop safely from home and not have to worry about navigating a store.
While I don't have one of these yet (it comes in next week!), I have seen them used by others. The Amazon Dash allows users to say or scan items that they need and it will add them to the Amazon cart. While it does not automatically purchase items, and the user still has to adjust quantities, it is a great way to make sure you never run out of essential items.
It saves money
Instead of buying whatever I see first or what is easiest to reach, I am able to compare prices by ounce or unit of identical products and determine what size best meets my needs. I also don't worry as much about impulse purchases. I order items about three times a month and stock up on things like protein bars using the service as well.
Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this service, and anytime I have had a problem, Amazon has been fantastic about handling it and solving any issues. I wish the monthly price was a bit lower, but it has not stopped me from using the service. I would recommend this service who has issues accessing a normal grocery store, and I look forward to the service expanding to my hometown so my family can see how awesome it is.
Editor's Note: Learning to use AmazonFresh is a great transition tool for independent living skills. Parents and O&M Instructors can inform students about this service and can provide opportunities for students to order grocery items through AmazonFresh. O&M instructor can choose to set up his/her own personal AmazonFresh account and have the students practice placing an order on the instructor's behalf.