HARTFORD, CONN. - Stew Leonard’s was joined by US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and local food pantries at a Stew Leonard’s location in Newington, Conn., on April 20 to announce praise for essential workers on the frontline during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The grocer announced that it is implementing first responder express lines for police, firefighters, nursed and health care workers. 

“Anyone out there who is a first responder, you can’t cut in line at Disney, but you can here,” said Stew Leonard Jr., president and chief executive officer of Stew Leonard’s. 

With food pantries closing and being reduced due to high demand during these unprecedented times, Stew Leonard’s announced that it is also donating 40,000 pounds of groceries to food banks across Connecticut. 

Sen. Blumenthal declared grocery employees in Connecticut and across the United States as essential personnel. He also discussed his support for the Heroes Fund, a proposal announced by Senate Democrats earlier in April. The proposal calls for an additional $13 an hour pay increase totaling $25,000 for each essential employees putting their lives on the line amidst COVID-19 until at least Dec. 31, 2020. 

Under the proposal no employer would be required to participate, but essential companies would be enabled to apply to the Heroes Fund for funds to be used to add line-item premium pay to employee paychecks. 

“We are living in a time of tremendous adversity, anxiety and anguish, but it’s also a time to recognize those that are keeping us safe and healthy, the frontline heroes,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “It’s a time to celebrate these folks, like those at Stew Leonard’s stores, who are exposing themselves to the risk of infection every day so people can buy essential food.”