The Major Change Publix Is Making During The Pandemic

Supermarkets have seen some unforeseen challenges as this whole pandemic scenario continues to unfold — well, haven't we all? This isn't something that turned up in anyone's horoscope prediction — even Nostradamus did not see it coming from hundreds of years in the past. But still, a global crisis where grocery stores would transform into ground zero? That's a plot twist even the SyFy channel would have side-eyed. And yet, grocery chains continue to be in the front lines of the war on COVID-19, struggling to keep us all supplied with the staples necessary to sustain life (you know, like bacon, ice cream, and booze) while doing their darndest to protect both customers and employees in a setting where germs are likely to spread.

In addition to taking steps to ensure safe, sanitary conditions in their stores, some chains are going above and beyond to give back to the community at a time when we are all struggling together. One such chain is Publix, which has instituted one plan meant to help out those hardest-hit at both ends of the food supply chain and another which will help to recognize some of the pandemic's biggest heroes.

Publix is simultaneously supporting farmers and feeding the hungry

Publix launched an initiative this week whereby the chain will serve as a kind of middleman between farmers and food banks, to the benefit of both. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Publix will be buying surplus fruits, vegetables, and milk from farmers throughout the seven states where it operates, items the farmers have been unable to sell because the restaurants they normally supply are currently closed. These foods, which might otherwise have had to be thrown away, will now be donated to Feeding America.

Publix's donation of 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk is certain to be a welcome one, since Feeding America projects that the COVID-19 economic fallout is going to be severe — in the Tampa Bay area alone, requests for food bank assistance are already up 400 percent, with 70 percent of those requests coming from first-time food bank users.

Publix is also helping out the heroes of the COVID-19 crisis

Some of the people at most risk of exposure to coronavirus are those whose jobs put them in contact with a large number of people, and these include both first responders and healthcare workers. Not only are they facing danger on a daily basis, but they also are working long, hectic hours and have little time left over to take care of their own day-to-day errands. In order to help them out, retailers including Sam's Club and BJ's have been designating certain hours for first responders and healthcare workers to shop crowd-free.

Publix has now joined the effort to ease the burden on these most essential of service providers. WSB-TV Atlanta reports that the chain has announced dedicated shopping hours for police, firefighters, and hospital staff: Thursday evenings from 8 to 9 p.m. and Friday mornings from 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 7 to 8 a.m. will remain reserved for customers aged 65 and up.