As more Americans are testing positive for Covid-19 each day, the federal government continues to ask everyone to practice social distancing and work from home when possible. Many businesses are closing and several restaurants have closed their dining rooms, leaving takeout as the only option. Grocery stores are seeing certain products fly off their shelves as Americans prepare for the worst. Grocery retailers, distributors and wholesalers across the country are working to keep up with demand yet still keep their employees and customers safe. In the Midwest, Hy-Vee, Festival Foods, AWG, KeHE and Shipt are working through challenges presented by the national public health emergency.
Hy-Vee installs temporary protective windows at checkouts, temporarily bans reusable bags
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. has made additional changes to its operations in response to the evolving coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Effective Friday, March 20, customers no longer will be allowed to bring in reusable bags until further notice since it is difficult to monitor their cleanliness. Because it is not always easy to know the sanitization procedures customers are taking at their homes to keep the bags clean, this is one more way the grocer is helping prevent the spread of the virus.
Customers also will start seeing temporary window panels installed at checkouts to help provide an additional layer of protection for both employees and customers.
These panels are being installed at the checkout, as this is the point in the store visit where customers and employees are in the closest contact. In the aisles or at Hy-Vee’s service counters, customers and employees have more flexibility in placing distance between themselves but the setup of the checkout limits that ability. These panels are in place in our Des Moines-area stores and will be installed in all other Hy-Vee locations over the next few days.
“The spread of this virus is asking us all to take extraordinary measures and change the way we live our lives,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee’s chairman, CEO and president. “We are continuing to adapt at Hy-Vee so that we can serve our customers and keep everyone in our stores as safe and healthy as possible.”
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $10 billion annually.
Festival Foods changing store hours
Because of the evolving Covid-19 situation, Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Festival Foods will be changing the hours at its stores so that they are open from 5 a.m.-9 p.m.
The change, which allows employees to clean the store and replenish stock levels, began March 19 at many Festival Foods locations throughout Wisconsin. Stores in Baraboo, Paddock Lake, Portage, Madison, Mauston and Fort Atkinson will still open at 6 a.m. but will close at 9 p.m. The store in Hales Corner will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
While Festival Foods associates have always focused on creating a clean store environment for guests, the additional time overnight will allow them to start the day with the best possible conditions, the company says. Because of that, Festival Foods recommends that elderly guests, or those with a compromised immune system, visit locations the first few hours of the day to benefit from these conditions.
The company has a team of leaders monitoring the Covid-19 situation very closely while actively collaborating with local health agencies.
Founded in 1946 as Skogen’s IGA, Festival Foods is a Wisconsin family- and employee-owned grocer. The company began operating as Festival Foods in 1990 and today employs more than 7,500 full- and part-time associates. The company currently operates 33 full-service supermarkets across the state of Wisconsin.
AWG steps up to restore supply to independent grocers
Kansas City, Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), the wholesale food cooperative supplier to independent grocers, is stepping up to the plate to immediately ramp up supply and improve its members’ stock levels.
Due to an unprecedented demand driven by Covid-19, related food insecurity and the mass closures of restaurants and other eating establishments, AWG responded by expanding its operating hours, surged staffing throughout its operations,and began onboarding new teammates.
“Springfield, Missouri; Southaven, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Kenosha, Wisconsin; with the significant increase in consumer demand, AWG is hiring full-time positions across all of its wholesale operations located in Kansas City, Kansas; Norfolk, Nebraska; Pearl River, Louisiana; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Fort Scott, Kansas. These open positions include both drivers and warehouse jobs,” said AWG Chief Human Resources Officer Pat Reeves. “Our hearts go out to the millions of workers affected by business closures and impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. We are blessed to supply about 17 percent of all independent supermarket sales in the U.S, and we now have an overflow of business. We have opened our doors to talented and dedicated new teammates that are looking for a new career path. We are focused on serving the needs of our member-retailers, caring for our teammates and being a responsible corporate citizen by providing great jobs for those displaced.”
To join the AWG team, interested applicants should visit www.awginc.com and click on the Careers page.
AWG is the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently owned supermarkets, serving more than 1,000 member companies and more than 3,000 locations throughout 28 states from eight full-line wholesale divisions.
KeHE hiring for warehouse positions immediately
KeHE is looking to fill a range of full-time jobs, including roles such as professional truck drivers and hourly warehouse positions due to increased demand that has impacted the food supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amid the national emergency, manufacturers, retailers and distributors are working to meet the increased need seen at the storefront. To provide a sense of stability to shoppers and communities throughout the United States, Naperville, Illinois-based KeHE has adapted to fulfill replenishment requirements. To do so, the company is expanding its workforce.
“KeHE is committed to the community of good food and united with our supplier and retailer partners, we can be proud of the important role that we have to ensure the people of North America have food on their tables and necessary supplies during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic,” stated KeHE CEO/President Brandon Barnholt.
While serving to provide consumers with the daily necessities, KeHE believes the health and safety of its employees is a priority. The company is diligently working to keep the distribution centers clean and safe by taking the precautionary steps in adherence with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
All non-exempt employees will be eligible for benefits after 30 days of employment. To apply, visit KeHE’s Careers page at kehe.com/integrity/careers/.
KeHE provides natural and organic, specialty and fresh products to chain and independent grocery and natural food stores and other specialty product retailers throughout North America. KeHE is an employee-owned, B Corporation certified company with more than 5,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada.
Shipt hiring 3,000 in metro Detroit, Minneapolis
Birmingham, Alabama-based Shipt, the same-day delivery marketplace, will add an additional 3,000 shoppers in the Detroit metro area and 2,000 in the Minneapolis metro area to serve customers during a time of increased demand as the Covid-19 situation evolves. Shipt provides home delivery from local retailers offering groceries, household essentials and medications safely and conveniently.
Starting today, Shipt will begin recruiting for shoppers in the Detroit metro area. With customer and shopper safety of the utmost priority, Shipt will ensure the latest CDC guidelines and recommendations are embedded in new and existing Shipt Shopper resources, giving shoppers access to the knowledge they need to deliver safely and efficiently.
Given the current environment, Shipt is enabling “social distancing” by encouraging shoppers to complete deliveries by dropping orders at the door, avoiding physical contact.
Shoppers must be at least 18 years old, have reliable transportation and a current driver’s license. To apply, visit Shipt.com/shopper and select “Apply Now.”