COVID-19 concerns have people swarming area grocery stores
It may have started with a run on hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but COVID-19 shopping is now spiking valleywide with packed grocery stores reported throughout Garfield and Eagle counties.
The Gypsum Costco, which specializes in bulk sales, has been busy all week. But the warehouse hit a purchasing crescendo on Friday morning with store workers remarking it was busier than Christmas. Local Costco managers were told to refer any COVID-19 questions to the corporate office but local shoppers have voiced appreciation for the store’s efforts, even when some of the products they want are sold out.
“Considering the checkout person said there were approximately 450 people in line before the doors even opened, they did an amazing job of moving people through the lines and were restocking as fast as they could,” offered one comment on the Eagle County Classified Facebook page.
“All registers were open and the employees were watching and diverting the people quickly and evenly through to the lanes from the line. Personally I think they are doing an amazing job.”
Local City Market managers also have been advised to refer all public comment to King Soopers corporate offices in Denver, but repeated calls to the corporate number for comment went unanswered Friday.
By late afternoon, shoppers were posting photos of empty shelves at local stores as the buying frenzy continued throughout the day.
The national coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the increasing number of local cases, has lots of people on edge. That’s why they are stocking up on food and household supplies.
But for local families who already live in food-insecure homes, the situation is more frightening.
“In any health crisis, it is the marginalized people who are most affected,” said Susie Davis of Our Community Foundation in Eagle County.
In response to COVID-19, Our Community Market wants the more than 1,600 customers that it serves every week at its Gypsum warehouse to know food will still be available.
“Our approach is that we are going to move to much more shelf-stable foods,” said Davis. “We will still be open but how we operate will look different.”
Normally Our Community Market offers fresh produce and other perishables to its customers. Under the organization’s COVID-19 response plan, customers will no longer have the option to shop the market. When they arrive at the warehouse, workers will distribute prepacked bags of shelf-stable food items.
“We will also make shelf-stable bags of food available through our usual neighborhood sites,” Davis added.
In Garfield County, while LIFT-UP thrift stores and Extended Table meal programs are shut down over COVID-19 concerns, the six food pantries from Parachute to Aspen remain open.
As the impacts of COVID-19 protection efforts expand, Davis said Our Community Foundation is hearing from many concerned people. But she is also hearing from a lot of people who want to help.
“You wonder what people will do when they are isolated. What we are seeing is people are reaching out like crazy,” Davis said. “Even in isolation, there are ways you can be helpful.”
Now, maybe more than ever, Davis sees how Our Community Market is a vital resource.
“We are really going to be flexible,” she said. “We have to see ourselves as a resource particularly during a crisis.”
Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff contributed to this report.
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