Meijer is showing appreciation to frontline workers in its stores and distribution centers via a holiday meal program that supports local restaurants.
Through Christmas, all Meijer stores and distribution centers will provide four holiday meals, each catered by a restaurant from their communities, as a way to thank employees for their dedication and hard work during the COVID-19 crisis and busy holiday shopping season.
Nearly 300 Meijer facilities will be hosting multiple holiday appreciation meals for staff in the coming weeks, which will provide a boost to local restaurants struggling amid the pandemic, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer said. Meijer estimated that local businesses will cater more than 1,000 holiday meal events in its facilities by the end of the year, serving more than 250,000 individual meals to its workers.
“As a family-owned Midwestern company, we know that communities are built around local businesses,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said in a statement. “These meals not only show our support of our team members, but also of the local businesses our communities depend upon. Both groups truly deserve a little extra appreciation this holiday season.”
Jackie Bruce of Timothy's Restaurant prepares hundreds of packaged stir-fry dishes for Meijer employees in Lincoln Township, Mich.
Timothy's Restaurant in Union Pier, Mich., recently provided 275 Hawaiian chicken stir-fry meals to Meijer’s Lincoln Township and Benton Harbor stores. The restaurant has been a mainstay of its lakeshore community for the past 20 years, providing upscale farm-to-table dining, but this year has been tough, Meijer noted. In 2020, Timothy's has seen its volume drop 80%, and its workforce of 35 people has been cut to six.
“It means a lot to have Meijer's support. It was a huge boost for us,” said Chef Timothy Sizer, owner of Timothy’s Restaurant. “I was able to bring in three extra people to help prepare the meals on a day we wouldn’t normally be open. They were thrilled for the extra shifts.”
Sizer added that, as a chef, he spends a lot of his time in his local Meijer store. “I go to Meijer almost every day, mainly because of the great produce selection. When you’re there so often, you start to build relationships with everyone from the greeter to the store director. They’re just really good people. It’s nice to go in and everyone knows you by name.”
Meijer partnered with Timothy’s in March on a similar initiative to feed store associates from local restaurants impacted by the pandemic, and Lincoln Township Store Director Rob Vassar said he’s eager to support Sizer again with the new program, which kicked off on Thanksgiving.
“We are so pleased to be able to provide such a high-quality meal for our team members as a sign of our appreciation,” Vassar said. “The food is great, and it’s made even better by knowing we’'re supporting a local business when they need us.”
Overall, Meijer operates 256 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
The economic picture for the U.S. restaurant industry looks bleak. According to the National Restaurant Association, 10,000 restaurants across the country have shut down in the past three months alone. A new survey by the association revealed that 87% of full-service restaurants — independent, chain and franchise — report a 36% average decrease in sales, and 83% of full-service operators expect sales to be even worse over the next three months. In addition, 58% of chain and independent full-service restaurants anticipate further furloughs and layoffs for at least the next three months. About 17% of restaurants, or more than 110,000 establishments, are completely closed, the association estimated.
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