The COVID-19 pandemic is mainly a time of tension, hardship and sorrow, but it’s also a time of cooperation, charity and acts of decency. The latest example of that, at least from the food retail world, come from Meijer, which said Monday it had begun distributing 750,000 KN95 face masks to help frontline workers and first responders throughout the Midwest.
The grocery chain is working with local health departments and emergency response teams to manage the distribution of the pandemic protection gear. KN95 masks has three layers for filtration and protection, and reportedly offer roughly similar protections as the more famous N95 masks. The masks from Meijer will go to government agencies, hospital systems, law enforcement agencies and other first responders in many of the communities Meijer serves, primarily in Michigan and Ohio, the food retailer said. These include Macomb and Oakland counties in Michigan and the City of Detroit, as well as the Michigan State Police. Those entities will then be able to distribute the masks as needed.
Food retailers are not only providing their own workers with masks and protective checkout barriers but are seeking to help out other frontline workers and build community goodwill via such donations of protective gear. And that’s hardly the whole effort. For example, Wakefern Food Corp., the retailer cooperative whose members own and operate ShopRite and other supermarket banners, has donated 12 trailers to move hospital equipment to four pop-up field hospitals being set up around its home state, according to a published report. And with so many consumers finding it hard to make ends meet, Publix, Cardenas and many other food retailers are donating to food banks.
Meijer, for its part, “has also procured and donated various personal protective equipment like face masks, gloves and medication to various COVID-19 Emergency Response Teams,” the food retailer said. “For example, Meijer donated 2,000 vials of insulin and 2,000 vials of albuterol to the State of Michigan for distribution in southeast Michigan; 60,000 N95 face masks to the State of Michigan; 1.75 million pairs of powdered vinyl gloves to the City of Detroit; and 4,000 N95 face masks to the State of Kentucky.”
Politicians have taken notice. “This action from Meijer will help us protect frontline workers and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Meijer operates more than 245 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 19 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America.