Grocery store workers are part of the front line in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and customers are starting to realize how essential they’ve always been.
“I never thought of us as being the front line until all this happened, and it’s just amazing how nice everyone has been; the customers come to us and say, 'Thank you,'” said Rose Disabado, manager of the Save A Lot store on 6th and Chambers in Aurora.
The Center for Community Wealth Building felt Disabado and her fellow employees deserved more than just a "thank you." They launched a GoFundMe campaign, Meals for Unsung Heroes, to provide meals to those workers.
“To date we have served 850 meals at 14 stores in the last three weeks,” said Yessica Holguin, executive director of the Center for Community Wealth Building.
The CCWB is a Denver nonprofit organization that focuses on helping minority-owned businesses and employee-owned companies. The Save A Lot on 6th and Chambers is operated by Leever’s Supermarkets, a chain of employee-owned grocery stores.
Holguin said workers at employee-owned stores have retirement plans and an ownership stake, but many still don’t make a living wage. Meals for Unsung Heroes is providing them with meals and simultaneously providing minority-owned catering companies an opportunity to prepare the meals.
Alejandro Flores-Munoz, co-owner of the Stokes Poke food truck, said his catering company saw a 95-percent reduction in business. But because of Meals for Unsung Heroes, he has been able to keep his kitchen open.
“Now, once a week I am guaranteed to bring at least one of my staff on board, pay them hours, give them hazard time, and be able to feel like we’re providing meals to people on the front lines,” Flores-Munoz said.
The GoFundMe page now has a goal of raising $20,000. Holguin encourages people to donate as a way to show our essential grocery workers how much they’re appreciated.