4 Grocers Setting the Bar For Employee and Community Appreciation

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, grocers far and wide are coming together to offer additional assistance and support to their associates and their communities. While some grocers have fallen flat by taking away benefits for their associates and programs that aid at-risk community members, others have shown us that going the extra mile isn’t something that should stop when the pandemic is over. 

The following grocers have contributed to their communities and associates in more ways than one to truly prove their roles as community grocers. 

Schnucks:

The St. Louis-based grocery chain has almost a cult following in the Midwest, and it’s not just because of their delicious gooey butter cake. Schnucks announced on September 20th that they would be donating $100,000 to ease the technology crisis in St. Louis area public schools and two charter schools – KIPP and Premier Charter – as many students return to classes virtually in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“At Schnucks, we understand the difficulties that the pandemic has caused as well as the changes in operations that it has required,” said Schnucks director of corporate external relations Schron Jackson. “Our commitment to those in need, especially children, in our home market of St. Louis remains steadfast and part of our company’s mission to nourish people’s lives and help strengthen the communities we serve.”

The funds will primarily be used to supply students with laptops and iPads and laptops as well as wireless hotspots for families that need them to connect to online classes. 

Food Lion:

The Salisbury, N.C.-based supermarket chain said on September 19th that they will be donating $500,000 in additional funding to support community groups and other organizations that foster racial equality and justice. The donation augments the more than $1 million annually that it already directs to community partnerships supporting racial equality. 

“Our value of care is at the center of everything we do, from how we run our business to how we engage with associates and customers to how we nourish our communities,” Food Lion President Meg Ham said in a statement. “Because we believe there is no place for systemic racism in our world, we are committed to doing our part to support racial equality inside our organization and inside our communities.

Among the recipients of Food Lion’s funding, including multiple chapters of some organizations, are the 100 Black Men of America, Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Councils, International Civil Rights Center & Museum, NAACP, NC Institute of Minority Economic Development, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte, N.C.) and Urban League of Central Carolinas.

Food Lion noted that the latest funding supports existing partnerships with these organizations, including some for more than three decades.

Brookshire Grocery:

Brookshire Grocery Co. has extended appreciation pay for hourly frontline workers for a third time since the COVID-19 outbreak in March.

Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire’s said this week that its more than 14,000 retail and logistics employees will receive another $1 per hour through Nov. 6 as a “thank you” for their extra efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

The regional grocer first enacted the temporary wage hike on March 24, with its 14,000-plus retail and logistics staff getting a $1-per-hour increase for the six weeks through the beginning of May. That was followed by extensions of the program announced on May 1, July 10 and Sept. 14.

“Our employee-partners’ service through this pandemic has been and continues to be heroic and inspiring,” Brookshire Grocery Chief Operating Officer Trent Brookshire said in a statement. “As other companies pull back on compensation for their workers, we are continuing to invest in our greatest assets: our partners. I am so proud to be able to give this appreciation pay as a tangible offering of our sincere gratitude for everything they are doing. I am so honored to be part of such an incredible team who upholds such high standards for service and safety.”

Meijer:

Supercenter retailer Meijer recognizes that “back to school” carries additional meaning this year.

With COVID-19 forcing teachers, parents and students to adapt to new learning environments — both in physical and virtual classrooms — Meijer recently extended its 15% teacher discount on classroom essentials to cover the whole 2020-21 school year, not just the back-to-school season. In August, the Midwestern chain also added face masks and hand sanitizer to the list of items eligible for the discount.

“There are so many uncertainties as teachers head back to classes, and we’ve heard the plans may change throughout the year. So our goal is to help them shop with confidence whenever they need to refill supplies,” Brandon Pasch, director of back-to-school merchandising at Meijer, said in a statement. “We hope that extending the 15% discount for the entire school year helps reduce the stress to their pocketbooks as they continue gathering supplies for their classrooms and home offices.”

Meijer said it typically expects more than 80,000 teachers across the Midwest to use its teacher discount. Teachers can get the paper coupon for the discount by presenting a current school ID at the customer service desk of their local Meijer store. The coupon can be used only for purchases made in-store. Teachers can repeatedly obtain a new coupon each time they return to Meijer during the back-to-school shopping season.