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Midwest Grocers Caring For Associates, Customers During Pandemic

Kroger Family of Cos., Covid-19

Grocery store employees continue to be on the frontlines in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. While several companies have hired new employees to help keep up with customer demand, many companies also are rewarding their associates for their hard work. In the Midwest, the Kroger Family of Cos. is providing a Hero Bonus for all hourly frontline associates and Buehler’s Fresh Foods is giving its employees a break by closing its stores on Easter Sunday. Hy-Vee is giving its high-risk shoppers a reserved hour for online shopping and is partnering with DoorDash for 20,000 free deliveries.


Kroger Family of Cos. provides Hero Bonus for all hourly frontline associates

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger Family of Cos. says it will provide all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates with a Hero Bonus—a $2 premium above their standard base rate of pay, applied to hours worked March 29 through April 18. The premium will be disbursed weekly to ensure associates have access to additional cash.

This announcement follows and is in addition to Kroger’s previous commitment shared on March 21, which provided a one-time bonus to frontline associates, which pays out on April 3. 

“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks and those who will soon join the Kroger Family of Cos.”

Referring to the appreciation bonus for hourly frontline associates, Tim Massa, Kroger’s SVP and chief people officer, said the gesture was to thank associates for all they have done during the past few weeks.

“However, we recognize that this crisis is far from over, and after reflecting on associate feedback and working together with our union partners, we want to further acknowledge our terrific team for their hard work to date as well as the work yet to come,” Massa said.

Associate and customer well-being and safety

“During this unprecedented time, Kroger’s most urgent priority is to provide a safe environment for associates and customers, with open stores and an efficiently operating supply chain,” McMullen said. 

To protect associates and customers and flatten the curve, The Kroger Family of Cos. has taken several preventive steps, including:

  • Enhancing daily sanitation practices, including cleaning commonly used areas more often like cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, food service counters and shelves.
  • Permitting and working hard to procure protective masks and gloves for associates.
  • Installing plexiglass partitions at check lanes, pharmacy and Starbucks registers across the enterprise.
  • Adding floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.
  • Adjusting store operating hours to allow more time for associates to rest, clean and replenish inventory.
  • Continuing to expand pickup and delivery services and contactless payment solutions like Kroger Pay.

Additional associate support and resources

In addition to the Hero Bonus and appreciation bonus, The Kroger Family of Cos. is taking several additional actions to support associates during this extraordinary time, including: 

  • Ensuring associates who are affected by Covid-19—whether experiencing symptoms and self-isolating, diagnosed or placed in quarantine—can recover with the support of emergency paid leave. 
  • Beginning next week, the Kroger Family of Cos. is adding ExpressPay—a new benefit that allows most hourly associates to access some of their pay faster, putting money in their pockets sooner than usual.
  • Making $5 million available for those facing hardship, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered higher-risk due to Covid-19 through the Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund. 
  • Offering an associate hotline to answer benefit questions quickly.
  • Providing access to mental health services and other benefits to support associates’ mental and physical well-being during this stressful time.  
  • Supporting associates by onboarding more than 30,600 new hires in the last two weeks, including workers from the hardest-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels and food service distributors.

Community support and uplift

The Kroger Family of Cos. also is uplifting communities in a variety of ways during this unprecedented time, including:

  • The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is rapidly deploying more than $3 million in hunger-relief resources to communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic through its nonprofit partners, Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. The funding will not only support local food banks nationwide, but also fund initiatives that ensure children, whose schools may be closed, still have access to nutritious meals. 
  • Making it easy for customers to support The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation’s mission to create communities free of hunger and waste by choosing to roundup their purchases to the nearest dollar at every self-checkout lane or donate here.
  • Donating food and funds to local food banks and hunger-relief efforts.
  • The Kroger Co. Foundation supported the American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program and Disaster Responder Program at the $500,000 level for 2020, enabling the Red Cross to develop capacity, leaders and resources to provide relief. 


Buehler’s Fresh Foods to close Easter Sunday

Wooster, Ohio-based Buehler’s Fresh Foods will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 12, to allow employees a day to rest and enjoy time with their families. The decision comes days after Buehler’s announced a $250,000 employee appreciation pay.

Dan Shanahan, president and CEO of Buehler’s Fresh Foods, said that it’s a perfect time for a little breather for all of the company’s dedicated employees and their families.


Hy-Vee reserves hour of online shopping for high risk; partners with DoorDash

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. says it will be reserving one hour of Hy-Vee Aisles Online shopping time slots each day for customers who are considered “high-risk.” Aisles Online is Hy-Vee’s grocery ordering service available at hy-vee.com/grocery/ or via the Hy-Vee Aisles Online mobile app. Hy-Vee coronavirus, Covid-19

Starting this Thursday, April 2, the reserved Aisles Online time slots will be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week, which coincides with the in-store hours reserved for these customers: 

  • Ages 60 and older;
  • Expectant mothers; and
  • Anyone with an underlying health condition(s) that makes him/her more susceptible to serious illness.

Pharmacies at Hy-Vee locations also are open to serve these customers from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. These locations include pharmacies inside its grocery stores, Mainstreet locations, Dollar Fresh stores and Hy-Vee Drugstores. 

All other customers are asked to respect this hour reserved for these high-risk customers, and limit their online shopping orders to time slots available 8 a.m. or after, seven days a week.

In addition to this effort, Hy-Vee has partnered with DoorDash to offer free delivery to this group of high-risk customers. In communities where Hy-Vee Aisles Online delivery orders are fulfilled by DoorDash, customers can use designated promo code “SPECIALDELIVERY” at checkout when they place their online order for delivery. The code also will be available on the Hy-Vee website. The promotion with DoorDash can be used for any available Hy-Vee Aisles Online time slot and will cover as many as 20,000 free deliveries.

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