WASHINGTON—In response to the coronavirus pandemic, businesses and governments across the United States and beyond are giving back to their local communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo and others to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals a week to students in select rural areas who are missing school due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Feeding children who are affected by school closures is a top priority for President Trump and this Administration. USDA is working with private sector partners to deliver boxes of food to children in rural America,” Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, said in a USDA news release,.
Families in rural U.S. communities are often unable to access existing food sites, and meal delivery ensures that children have consistent access to food when school is closed.
McLane Global is assisting by bringing back a home delivery effort piloted in 2019 during a summer Meals-2-You program. “We can work together to swiftly take this model nationwide. McLane Global is ready to do its part to support the fight against hunger through this crisis,” said Denton McLane, chairman, McLane Global.
“In the face of this unprecedented crisis, it’s critical that the private sector help ensure these students have access to nutritious meals,” said Jon Banner, executive vice president, PepsiCo Global Communications and president, PepsiCo Foundation, which is also assisting the USDA. “PepsiCo is committing $1 million to help Baylor create a solution with the USDA to identify children most in need.”
Other businesses are working to ensure that communities have what they need as well. Disney properties are temporarily closed, but the Mouse is still spreading joy by donating foods Disney parks and hotels have on hand. Employees have joined the Distribution Services team that oversees collection and delivery of donations, including fresh salads, greens and expertly cooked hot items with local food banks.
Creative genius struck the employees of Guerrilla Tacos, a Los Angeles restaurant, right before the restaurant closed temporarily. Using the food on hand, they put together “Emergency Taco Kits” featuring five pounds of roasted chicken, five pounds of carne asada, a pint of red salsa, tortillas, onions, cilantro, rice and beans. As a bonus, they added four rolls of toilet paper and 30 eggs for a complete “no shopping required” offering, which sold on the store’s website for $150. The proceeds are enabling the restaurant to pay employees’ health insurance premiums while they’re off work.
Some stores have also created special shopping times for at-risk customers—seniors, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, according to USA Today. Both Safeway and Albertson’s have set aside 7 to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday morning for those shoppers, and Whole Foods will permit shoppers older than age 59 to come inside one hour before the store’s regular opening time. Target is setting aside the first hour each Wednesday, and Dollar General is designating the first hour of each day for vulnerable shoppers.
And while heavy cleaning and “social distancing” will be a common practice for some time to come, one foodservice provider is finding a way to bring people together without them being in the same room. Fast-casual Chipotle is hosting virtual lunchtime meetings every day on meeting application, Zoom, Adweek reports.
The meetings feature celebrity guests and as many as 3,000 viewers. The chain is also offering free delivery on all orders of $10 via its app and website during the month of March, and it is responding to the coronavirus with steps including: delivery kitchens with dedicated teams and ingredient stations to prepare digital orders, and new tamper-evident packaging.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.