Supercenter operator Meijer is supporting local restaurants feeling the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak by purchasing meals for employees.
Called “Buy Local,” the program enables each of Meijer’s 248 supercenters, grocery stores and distribution centers to partner with an independent restaurant in its area to buy meals for its workers, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer said Tuesday. The community-focused initiative is slated to continue for the next several weeks.
“Our teams are working hard every day to ensure our stores are clean and fully stocked so our customers can find what they need for their families,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said in a statement. “This initiative is just one of the ways we are trying to show them just how much we appreciate their dedication, while also providing an opportunity to support important small businesses in the communities we serve.”
For example, the Meijer store in West Chester, Ohio, chose Roc-a-Fellas pizzeria for its first employee meal after learning that the restaurant fed 16 families in need. Also, Meijer’s distribution center in Lansing, Mich., bought more than 1,900 turkey and ham sub sandwiches from family-owned Italian restaurant Tony M’s.
Meijer also purchased food for employees from Louie Angelo’s, a fast-casual Italian restaurant in South Elgin, Ill., just down the road from the retailer’s store in Elgin, Ill.
“Our hearts are SO FULL,” Louie Angelo’s wrote on its Facebook page. "THANK YOU @meijer for supporting Louie Angelo’s during these difficult times!! Your commitment to small, local businesses like ours makes an enormous impact. We feel so honored to provide meals to all your selfless, hard-working employees!”
Meijer operates stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
“All of us at Meijer are proud to serve our communities, and we will continue to work through these challenging times together,” Keyes added.
Restaurants, particularly independents, are among the hardest-hit business sectors since much of the nation shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, the National Restaurant Association said the restaurant industry has lost two-thirds of its workforce — more than 8 million employees — because of closings from coronavirus lockdowns. Of 6,500 restaurants surveyed by the association, 60% of owners said current federal relief programs, including the CARES Act, won’t enable them to keep workers on payroll during the downturn. The association estimated that restaurants lost $30 billion in March and are on track to lose $50 billion in April and over $240 billion nationwide by the end of the year.
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