Retailers

States, Cities Show Support for Supermarket Employee Day

Created by FMI, the day celebrates employees for feeding families amid crises
SpartanNash employees
Photograph courtesy of SpartanNash

Created by FMI–The Food Industry Association—and supported by several state and local governments—Supermarket Employee Day celebrates grocery employees at every level for serving their communities during periods of crisis, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

FMI has created a free toolkit, complete with messaging, logos and turnkey resources, to help grocers nationwide honor their employees on Feb. 22 for going “above and beyond by volunteering countless hours and contributing valuable support to community service,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI, in a blog.

FMI Supermarket Employee Day image

Image courtesy of FMI–The Food Industry Association

The sentiment was echoed by several states and local governments, which also proclaimed Feb. 22 as Supermarket Employee Day.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said, “Our supermarket employees are on the front lines. They’ve kept our shelves stocked with healthy, affordable food. … They’ve helped protect Kentuckians by limiting exposure through pickup and delivery options and ensuring guidelines are met within stores. And I know, it hasn’t been easy. While these front-line workers have faced great challenges, they have tackled each obstacle with courage, compassion, dedication and leadership—ultimately, setting a selfish example and helping us sprint out of the pandemic this year.”

The Kentucky Retail Federation and Kentucky Grocers & Convenience Store Association are also encouraging mayors and local officials across the state to recognize Supermarket Employee Day through their own proclamations and on social media with the #SupermarketEmployeesDay and #SupermarketHeroes hashtags, according to a local report.

In the West, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey voiced his support on Twitter, writing: “Supermarket employees are instrumental in Arizona’s fight against #COVID19. Happy to join @azfamily and leaders of @BashasMarkets, @Safeway, @Albertsons & @FrysFoodStores today to thank them for their commitment to our communities ahead of Supermarket Employee Day on February 22.”

In the Midwest, family-owned and -operated Metcalfe’s Market, with three locations in Wisconsin, announced that the Badger State, the cities of Madison and Wauwatosa, and Dane County had each issued a proclamation for Supermarket Employee Day. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is expected to enter a statement on behalf of supermarket workers in the Congressional Record on Feb. 22. 

“Grocery workers across Wisconsin have been helping their communities to stay strong during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brandon Scholz, president and CEO of Wisconsin Grocers Association, in a release. “When COVID-19 forced people to home shelter, grocery stores stayed open. And they have continued to adapt and serve their communities every day. There is no question that supermarket employees are heroes.”

"There are 6 million supermarket employees in the U.S. The need [for them] is greater than ever due to current and growing consumer demand."

Elsewhere, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Mayor Bob Fox noted, according to a local news report, that grocery workers serve with “courage, compassion, dedication and leadership” and that “they’ve truly been heroes throughout this pandemic.”

“There are 6 million supermarket employees in the U.S.,” Fox added. “The need [for them] is greater than ever due to current and growing consumer demand.”

How Some Retailers Are Celebrating

Retailers across the nation will mark Supermarket Employee Day in their own way, but one message is certain: the efforts of supermarket employees should be recognized all year long.

“Our family of retail associates have continued to adapt throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and they truly are our front-line heroes,” said Todd Swanson, EVP and general manager of corporate retail for SpartanNash, in a release. “On Supermarket Employee Day—and all year long—we want to honor and celebrate the essential role they play at SpartanNash.”

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, which owns and operates 154 retail stores in Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin under numerous banners, will celebrate Supermarket Employee Day by offering all retail associates an “associate appreciation” discount of 20% off at all company-owned stores, in addition to other celebration and recognition initiatives. SpartanNash has about 13,000 retail associates.

"Food retail workers have tirelessly served their customers throughout the pandemic, and I can't think of a better day to say 'thank-you' for all they done and continue to do so."

Throughout the week, SpartanNash retail associates will also be featured on the company’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages, celebrating teams and individuals for their efforts. The retailer is also encouraging customers to stop into their local grocery store on Feb. 22 to congratulate and thank the supermarket heroes.

“Food retail workers have tirelessly served their customers throughout the pandemic, and I can’t think of a better day to say ‘thank-you’ for all they have done and continue to do,” Swanson said.

To show its appreciation for its workers, Boone, Iowa-based Fareway Stores Inc., which has 124 stores in six states, is also giving its employees a discount to use in-store. Fareway's more than 11,000 employees will be given a 15% discount for use Feb. 21-27.

During the week, the retailer will also highlight different teams of employees and their contributions via its Facebook and Instagram social media channels. 

Meanwhile, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers, parent company of Bi-Lo, Fresco y Mas, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, is holding a 10-day celebration that concludes with Supermarket Employee Day, when SEG will show appreciation for its associates and fellow supermarket employees. Throughout the 10 days, SEG and its associates will take part in and host several community events to show appreciation as well for fellow front-line workers and celebrate love and kindness with customers and neighbors.

The retailer is also encouraging customers join in the celebration by sharing words of gratitude or with a socially distant thank-you to their local grocery store team.

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