As the response to coronavirus impacts communities across the country, grocery stores have become not just “essential businesses,” but a lifeline for Americans to stay healthy and maintain a standard of living while remaining safely at home for weeks at a time.
First, let me assure you that shoppers will continue to find food and necessary supplies in our stores. We receive deliveries throughout the day and our team members are working around the clock to restock our shelves and online fulfillment centers – we’ve even added hundreds of temporary jobs to meet demand during this extremely busy time, especially in support of our GIANT Direct delivery service.
We are in constant contact with our local and national supplier partners – the farmers, bakers, snack manufacturers, packaged-goods producers, and many other businesses, both large and small, that provide the goods we sell. They stand with us in our commitment to service. As essential businesses, they will continue growing produce, supplying meat and fish, and stocking our shelves with necessary food and nonfood items, such as cleaning products and paper goods.
As grocers continue to do their part, as key products return to our shelves, we turn to our customers to help us by asking all to limit their purchases to what they truly need right now. Some Americans have been stockpiling goods such as toilet paper, frozen food, and canned goods. Keeping a small stash of shelf-stable products and paper goods at home is always something we recommend, but at this time, it’s turned into something more: panic-buying.
Besides leaving store shelves bare, the panic-buying happening across our country is having an extremely damaging effect on food banks. According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, more than 40 million Americans turn to their network for support each year. Right now, they are working overtime to respond to an ever-increasing number of clients, and that trend will certainly continue as we navigate this public health crisis.
The need of food banks like Philabundance has never been greater or more real, as they work to ensure the most vulnerable members of our communities have access to food — one less thing for them to worry about in this period of uncertainty.
I firmly believe it’s up to all of us to do our part in helping fill our country’s plates. So again, to all, I say, please purchase only what you need and leave the rest for your neighbor; and if you happen to find yourself with a surplus of canned goods and other nonperishables, consider donating to your local food bank.
Let’s navigate this unprecedented situation as a society. America has always shown its greatness in times of crisis – whether that be something as big as scrap-metal drives in WWII or a community-based fund-raiser for a sick neighbor. By continuing to limit your exposure to crowds and stay home, you’re already helping to flatten the curve and get us back to normal as soon as possible. Please bring that mind-set to your grocery list. By giving everyone access to essential items, you’ll allow everyone to care for themselves and their families.
Nicholas Bertram is president of the GIANT Co., an omni-channel grocer with brands designed for the way families live now. A veteran of the retail grocery industry, Bertram serves as vice chair for the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Chamber. Nicholas is also cochair of the Corporate Council and a member of the Foundation Board of Overseers for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.