The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Frenzy at grocery stores subsides
By Glen Mazza
editor

During his Sunday morning media conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the vital role of workers who provide essential services.
He included people who continue to work in grocery stores. They work with a heightened risk of exposure to viruses. Local manager say grocery stores are seeing a spike in business as people stock up on food and supplies. The Evergreen Co-op is part of the Federated Co-ops which also provides inventory. Federated has seen an increase of 124 per cent in the Edmonton zone. General Manager Shane Buss said that Federated has a pandemic team providing daily updates and Evergeen has a pandemic response plan locally.
“Our first step is to make sure everyone is knowledgeable and safe in our environment. Obviously, we increased our cleaning schedules and sanitation measures. The biggest thing is that our staff and customers know that we do everything possible to keep it a safe environment.”
“One issue we have – particularly in our food store that is the one that has been hit the hardest of any of them – is basically the scare that has been put into everyone has put a lot of stress on the distribution chain. There are times that we receive a third of what we order so that puts a strain on things.”
That was echoed by managers Mike Hofforth of Sobeys and Ron Little of Extra Foods in Rocky who agree that people need to adhere to limits on certain items.
“Here is the biggest one and this where we need the community to really pitch in and that is we had to put limits on things and here’s the reason why ... so we get meat department coolers completely full and one customer comes in an fills two carts full, so for people who actually need the product can’t even get it. So we look at it this way, we are here to serve the community as a whole, not just the individual,” proclaimed Buss.
“People are hoarding and our pharmacy is hit extremely hard right now. We can’t even get ventilin and there’s people who actually need that product but because some people are stockpiling pharmaceuticals, it is not just us, it is all across the country right now there are shortages from suppliers standpoint and a distribution standpoint.”
All of the store managers foresee inventory improving in the near future.
“We are starting to see improvements in supply chains, it’s just certain items we have a tough time getting,” said Little.
Buss also praised grocery workers for their dedication in the face of stressed customers and staff shortages when people have to self-isolate with colds or other illnesses. “We are currently experiencing many staff shortages due to self-isolation, increased workloads, and many of our valued team members are being verbally abused (due to limits on certain items). As a community, we should be coming together and not lashing out because we are having to put limits on some products. I have zero tolerance for individuals who feel the need to verbally abuse people who are playing a big role in assisting our community get through this pandemic.”
“The frenzy is over with to a certain extent,” concluded Little who said they are doing customer counts to ensure social distancing, but said it should not be a problem in Rocky.
Service for seniors
Sobeys is designating seniors shopping from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., but Hofforth said they won’t turn others away at that time, but it should be for seniors.
The Co-op is doing a delivery service of orders phoned in by seniors. For older individuals from the rural areas, the Co-op is doing curbside delivery so they don’t have to come into the store said Buss.