This program is the latest in a series of safety measures designed to protect both customers and associates during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the cooperative installed Plexiglas shields at cash registers, customer service counters and pharmacies across all its banner brands, including ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Dearborn Market and Gourmet Garage. Stores also recently began limiting occupancy during peak shopping hours, and in keeping with new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all store associates will wear protective masks.
“These are extraordinary times and we are committed to protecting our associates and customers as we keep our stores open to serve our communities,” said Joe Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp. “We are closely monitoring the fast-moving COVID-19 emergency and all new recommendations and CDC protocols, and using that information to guide our decisions. We are proud of our hard-working associates and doing everything we can to support them and keep them safe as they work on the front lines of this public health crisis.”
All stores are also emphasizing social distancing with special signs, in-store announcements and floor markers, and many are also offering shopping hours or designated checkout lanes for seniors and other at-risk customers.
In addition to rigorously enforcing established protocols for proper food handling, hand washing, hygiene and store sanitation, stores are also taking extra steps to deep clean and sanitize food contact surfaces and high-touch areas such as credit card pin pads and shopping carts.
As part of Wakefern’s enhanced protocols, customers who bring their own bags to shop are asked to bag their own orders, and associates may only pack a customer’s order using store provided bags.
Members of the Wakefern cooperative collectively employ nearly 80,000 people across nine states, representing one of the largest employers in New Jersey. The retailer-owned cooperative is made of 51 family-owned businesses, including many that have been in the grocery industry for generations.
“So many of us have spent our whole lives in the grocery business and we are committed to feeding families. Today that commitment includes making important changes to our stores so that we can continue to do what we do best – helping people get the fresh foods and vital supplies they need,” he added.