Health care workers and first responders in seven states received a grocery surprise on Monday, April 13, when Southeastern Grocers Inc. covered their in-store purchases.
The move, which the grocery chain said was inspired by a previous action in Louisiana, happened during the hour set aside for those workers to shop at Southeastern Grocers locations – that is, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The chain, one of the largest in the U.S., operates BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Southeastern Grocers had recently worked with filmmaker and movie star Tyler Perry when, on April 8, he paid the grocery bills for customers shopping during the “high-risk shopping hour” at 29 Winn-Dixie stores in Louisiana. Those customers for the most part were senior citizens.
“Southeastern Grocers is dedicated to being there for the community when they need us the most, and we believe there is no better time than now to show acts of kindness,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers. “Our heroic health care professionals and first responders are on the front line every day as they work tirelessly to make our communities safer, and we want to do our part to thank them.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make its way across the population, grocers are working to keep stores open and moving efficiently. To that end, Southeastern Grocers also said it wants to fill more than 5,000 positions with people who have suffered restricted working hours or job losses because of mandated business slow-downs or closures during the pandemic. The chain also recently donated $250,000 to Feeding America.
The grocery chain has extra shopping hours on Mondays and Tuesdays so that health care professionals and first responders can purchase goods. Southeastern locations also devote their first hour of daily operations to senior citizen customers.
Southeastern Grocers operates more than 550 stores and employs some 45,000 workers. The company is No. 13 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.