KANSAS CITY, MO. – As many cities and states across the US begin to implement stricter stay-at-home guidelines, grocers continue to update their policies and create new programs to help their customers in these uncertain times caused by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Many grocery stores have reserved shopping hours for seniors who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19, and some stores have additional opportunities for senior shoppers. H-E-B, San Antonio, has partnered with Favor Delivery, Austin, Texas, to launch an easy-use-use and low-cost way for senior shoppers to access their own personal shopper by phone, allowing them to get essential food and supplies delivered to their homes. Shoppers age 60 and older can place orders with Favor using a curated list of products available from H-E-B. 

“We heard from our customers loud and clear, and we’re ready to offer one of the safest, healthiest solutions in the marketplace dedicated to seniors who are worried about going out in public,” said Martin Otto, H-E-B chief operating officer. “Together with Favor, H-E-B is committed to helping Texans get the products they need while slowing the spread of coronavirus in our communities.” 

H-E-B and Favor will staff its Senior Support phone line (1-833-397-0080) with volunteers from both companies to accept and process orders over the phone from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. All delivery fees will be waived for the first 30 days of the program with a $10 tip for the Favor Runner that shops for and delivers items. 

Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy, Tyler, Texas, is offering seniors a temporary 5% daily discount for seniors through May 5 available to shoppers age 60 and older with valid ID. The grocery chain has also waived all for curbside orders through May 5. 

Many grocers are giving employees who are facing an unprecedented situation additional pay. The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, is giving full-time employees $300 bonuses and $150 bonuses for part-time employees and an additional 14 days of paid leave for self-isolation and symptoms as verified by a health care professional. 

"Grocery workers are on the frontlines, ensuring Americans have access to the food and products they need during this unprecedented pandemic," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers. I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing. The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort." 

Albertsons Companies, Boise, Idaho, is giving all associates appreciation pay, an additional $2 per hour above regular hourly and overtime pay. 

The company has also joined some grocers in installing additional health protections at check-out stands. Albertsons has installed Plexiglas “sneeze guards” in its checkout lanes as a protective barrier between customers and checkers. 

“We recognize that we provide an essential service to our communities,” said Vivek Sankaran, Albertsons president & CEO. “We are doing everything we can to provide a safe, secure, and comfortable shopping space for our valued customers. This is an extra step to protect our associates who are in constant contact with the public and provide our customers with extra reassurance as well.” 

Hy-Vee, Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa, has also installed temporary window panels at checkouts. The retail chain is also banning customer use of reusable bags until further notice to monitor cleanliness.  

“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.”