Bashas’ Diné Markets is helping to protect Native American communities from the surging pandemic.
As COVID-19 cases skyrocket across the U.S., the Navajo Nation is experiencing uncontrolled spread in about 55 communities and has entered its second shelter-in-place order. Controlling the spread of COVID is critical, and a key element of success is access to necessary personal protection equipment, or PPE. That’s why the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund is teaming up with Bashas’ Diné Markets to bring direct relief to families in need on the Navajo Nation.
“We are happy to partner with Bashas’ Diné Markets and Sovereign Partners to help protect Navajo and Hopi community members by providing them with kinship PPE kits that each include 50-count, 3-ply masks, 75-count Clorox wipes and 8-oz. of sanitizer,” said Ethel Branch, interim executive director of the Navajo & Hopi Families Relief Fund. “We have been providing direct relief for the last eight months to more than 39,000 Navajo and Hopi households. We understand how difficult it is for Navajo and Hopi community members to access these PPE items. It is important to us to be able to help our relatives gain access to these items that will protect them against COVID-19.”
In early November, volunteers handed out more than 5,000 PPE kits to Navajo and Hopi families at Bashas’ Diné Markets in Chinle, Kayenta and Tuba City. The first distribution event, held during a five-day period, was so successful that additional distributions are now planned to take place during the next three months, and more grocery store locations on the Navajo Nation will participate.
“We want to help protect Navajo and Hopi families, and do our part to help flatten the COVID-19 curve on the Navajo Nation,” said Johnny Basha, VP of special projects for Bashas’ Family of Stores, the family-owned grocer that operates Bashas' Diné supermarkets. “After seeing how successful this PPE distribution was, we decided to expand our partnership with the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund by adding additional distribution events and locations, providing more families with the critical PPE that they need to protect their families.”
The next distribution events will be held at Bashas’ Diné Market locations in Crownpoint, Window Rock, Dilkon and Pinon from Dec. 1 through Dec. 4 (or until supply is exhausted). Volunteers will distribute PPE kits from 7:30-11:30 a.m. on each of these days.
During the upcoming distributions, volunteers will have a table stationed near the grocery store exit(s), distributing one PPE kit to each family. Volunteers and staff will be socially distanced on either end of the table and follow all COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearable masks.
The Navajo Nation, home to roughly 170,000 people, had more COVID-19 cases per capita than any state in America this summer and remains in this unfortunate position. Navajo people have a much higher risk for infection (due to a higher rate of diabetes and hypertension) and for community spread (as many have limited continued access to food and water, which create challenges when needing to self-isolate and help prevent the spread of infection).
The Navajo population has been hit so hard by COVID-19 that Doctors Without Borders, an organization known for sending medical professionals into international conflict zones to assist with medical crises, dispatched a team of nine people to the reservation to help. The Navajo Nation also recently implemented another weekend-long curfew to keep members from leaving the reservation and bringing COVID-19 back to their families.
Bashas’ Family of Stores is a family-owned company based in Chandler, Arizona. Its brands include Food City, AJ's Fine Foods, Eddie's Country Store, and both Bashas' and Bashas' Diné supermarkets. Bashas’ Market Inc. is No. 73 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America.