Food, grocery suppliers announce plans

March 21, 2020

Local food banks will remain open during the coronavirus emergency on the following schedule:

• Norton: Tuesday/Friday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

• Big Stone Gap: Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

• Pound: Thursday only, 9:30-11:30 a.m.


By now, everyone knows local grocery stores have run short on toilet paper, cleaning and sanitizing supplies and some other items.

Meanwhile, customers have questions about how store staff are protecting their health and safety.

The Food City supermarket chain has posted extensive information on its website addressing concerns.

Store hours are temporarily restricted to 7 a.m.-10 p.m. for additional cleaning, sanitizing and restocking. The opening hour, 7-8 a.m., “will be specifically designated for customers 65 and older, as well as customers with underlying health conditions to shop to avoid busier shopping periods.” Also, every Monday beginning March 23, Food City pharmacies will open at 7 a.m. to let the “most vulnerable” customers get in with limited exposure.

“We are working diligently to continue to maintain stock levels to service our customers and are in constant communication with supply chain teams,” Food City said. Because of increased demand, certain items are limited to two per customer, although the chain did not list them.

Self-service features such as salad and hot bars are temporarily suspended, as are product sampling programs.

Food City announced Tuesday that it intends to hire 2,500 more workers company-wide. More than 100 jobs are available at its Abingdon distribution center.

Both Food City and United Grocery Outlet, which operates in Norton, published extensive information on their websites regarding additional sanitation measures they are taking to combat the virus. So did the parent companies of Payless Supermarket, Price Less and Save A Lot, which operate local stores. All five describe stepped-up disinfection wipe-downs of surfaces, additional hand sanitizer supplies for shoppers and employees and other efforts.

Price Less stated on its website: “We will continue to work closely with our supply partners to keep our shelves stocked with items you need most, including fresh foods, cleaning supplies and medications. In addition, we will continue to manage our available inventory and ask guests to be mindful of how much of each item they purchase so we can have essential items accessible to all shoppers.”

IGA includes on its website tips on “how to shop for a pandemic.” It includes lists of common food and household products recommended for stocking up, along with tips on protecting yourself from infection.

Meanwhile, in Big Stone Gap, Bob’s Market continues to serve customers with freshly prepared meats and other items. On its Facebook page Wednesday, the owners wrote: “It's been a very busy week, and we're thankful to be able to help our customers during this time. Your patience as we work to fill your orders has been greatly appreciated.”