Grocery Store Workers, On the Front Lines Too, Give and Receive Praise

Working in a grocery store today is itself a heroic act, given the stress of getting to work and operating in close quarters as coronavirus continues to spread. Several stores have closed completely in recent weeks after a staff member contracted the disease. Others have held strikes around the country to demand safer working conditions.

Upper West Siders have embraced a nightly ritual at 7 p.m. of clapping for people who put themselves in harm’s way, and that goes beyond the doctors and nurses at hospitals. Everyone who has to go out and put themselves at risk — cops, firefighters, transit and sanitation workers, postal employees and people who work in grocery stores and pharmacies, among others.

To acknowledge the community’s thanks, workers at Trader Joe’s on 93rd and Columbus came out to accept the claps and held signs with appreciation for the community. Thanks to Victor Nicolescu for the photos.

NEWS | 20 comments | permalink
    1. Robert F says:

      That is what the world needs, more clapping.

    2. Erica says:

      I sincerely hope our country changes after this and pays people commensurate with living needs in their respective cities, including benefits and vacation and sick time. I truly hope…

      • rs says:

        Hope is fine but not enough. If you really want to help, and your situation allows it, get a job in a supermarket or equivalent and help organize a union.

        • Old Geezer says:

          If you really want to help, you should go the bank, get a loan, and open your own supermarket. Then you can pay your workers commensurate with their living needs.

    3. Ace says:

      This makes me so happy to be an Upper West Sider. Together we will get through this. Many thanks to our heroic essential workers.

    4. Kudos to the workers in our grocery stores. They need help in dealing with the crisis.

      This crisis suggests a different business model needed to keep the workers safe. The worker’s interaction with the public needs to be minimized without affecting the distribution of staples.

      I suggest that customers need to be kept out of the store. Orders should be taken outside or from websites and prepared inside. Pre-defined or grouped packages can be prepared easy purchase outside. A register can be setup on the sidewalk under a tent to dispense the package. A typical package geared towards a customer type could be something like this:

      One Gallon of Milk
      A large container of juice
      A pound of ground beef
      Two pounds of pasta
      Can of tuna
      A head of lettuce
      Bananas
      A loaf of bread
      Snack food
      etc.

      The workers could work inside a safer environment reducing their risk of getting sick. Compartmentalizing the process can be the key to providing worker safety.

      Amazon has this sort of business model using distribution centers. There will be workers getting sick due to possible social distancing issues inside the store.

      All businesses with large gatherings of people could adopt this and serve their customers in greater safely. Customers buying large quantities of a single item would not be able to do so. We are already seeing this being done for distribution of food to needy school children and seniors. Why not have businesses do it also?

      • HelenD says:

        Great idea unless you have an auto immune condition(s) and can’t eat anything on that list except tuna. Have you seen the food given out to the students? I wouldn’t feed any of it to a child and if I was a senior I’d be really insulted if someone handed me a bag of prepackaged soy and jelly sandwiches.

        • JM says:

          School Foods staff is going into tight kitchens, everyday, with limited social distancing and at significant risk to their own health, to provide food to their communities. So sorry you don’t like the menu.

          • HelenD says:

            Take what you will from my comments, but my point is that the food being dispensed is NOT healthy. There are people flooding TJ’s every day to get healthy food so why isn’t this healthy food being made available and given to CHILDREN and the ELDERLY?! I asked school children about this and they said, ‘don’t worry about it, we have to eat this cr*p all the time!” I was not aware of this before. It is WRONG!

            • JM says:

              The food that’s being distributed meets or exceeds USDA requirements for school foods. Whole grains, no artificial preservatives or additives, no added sugars, no food colorings.

              Your claim that it’s not nutritious is false.

              You may not care for it, but it’s feeding tens of thousands of New York City residents that would otherwise go without.

            • EricaC says:

              JM, it is hard to argue that it is a good diet. It may be minimally adequate, but that doesn’t make it good. That is no insult to the food service workers – they don’t pick what to serve.

        • Identifying issues in the pieces of this big puzzle as you have done is how we make all fit together. The proposal is meant to solve the principal problem of contagion spread amongst the workers.

          Not every solution is a fit for all. My example of a grocery list was based on what I would like and can eat. Cultural and dietary preferences should be offered. Businesses will have to further determine the needs of their customers. What is offered in the packages is definitely another problem to be solved.

          • HelenD says:

            @nycissues My apologies for my knee jerk reaction. The proposal is a very good idea, especially now that it’s getting warmer. Fairway has outside payment in the summer and the entire corner of 72nd and B’way is normally filled with TJ’s delivery carts, so they would definitely have the space to move outside. I’m finding it difficult to sustain my own auto immune diet regimen, and not having the right food sets off flareups (not to mention the stress), and now that I’ve discovered what my niece and her school friends have been eating I hope to get involved in changing that at some point.

    5. Leon says:

      Thanks so much to those working in grocery stores – your efforts are greatly appreciated. Hopefully their working conditions are being kept as safe as possible.

      And to those shopping in grocery stores, please be considerate of your neighbors. I went shopping yesterday after waiting in a line to get in – I am normally impatient but was happy to wait to be safe. Once I got in, I saw several people spending five minutes going through fruits and vegetables, looking for the perfect tomato or apple while others were waiting to access the same items but trying to keep a safe distance. This is ridiculous. Get in, get what you need quickly, and get out.

      Similarly, if you are walking on a relatively narrow sidewalk, don’t stroll in the middle of the sidewalk like you are going on a Sunday walk with not a care in the world. Stay to one side, walk as quickly as you are able, and be aware of the people around you so that they can safely get by.

      If we are going to get through this, we have to do it as a team. Be considerate and aware of your fellow New Yorkers.

    6. UWSusan says:

      Uhh…Is anyone else extremely bothered that these “grateful” workers are standing right next to each other? I don’t understand how so many people are just not getting the message!

      • JL says:

        I think that IS the point. There is close contact INSIDE for the workers AND customers. Stressful for the shopper for 20 min every 4/5 days, stressful for the whole day for the workers.

        I like the setting up tables outside idea. I have purchased produce from sidewalk fruit stands (both parties masked) and giving extra change (10 or 20 dollars)

        TJ’s on 72nd can use the triangle space at the subway station, or the huge sidewalk space on w71st. I’m sure they can use iPads for CC outside.

        Spring is here.

    7. sidetreknyc says:

      We moved to the UWS in 2016 to retire. Our building is great and still has young people working hard to keep it maintained. So far. We are very grateful for that. As well as for the grocery/delivery workers and of course all medical/emergency front liners and the people who support all of that.

      Most of the residents in our neighborhood and building are gone to their other homes or family refuges. But. We are still here and UWS Strong.

      Thank you for making it possible!

    8. SA_NYC says:

      And if you can afford it, slip the next person you see working at your grocery store a $10 or $20 bill! That’s what I’ve been trying to do, as safely as possible.

    9. Judith says:

      Great photos, Victor! My Central Park buddy! As a volunteer there you embody what’s best about the people of NY. Now your photos catch our spirit, too!

    10. Babien says:

      That’s wonderful! “The TraderJoe’s” crew in Westwood NJ are awesome as well! They wipe down the carts for everyone while we are waiting on line. Keep people a safe distance from each other. Bag the groceries etc. nowhere else that I have been does so much with so much care and enthusiasm. I thank them all the time🙏💕🌈👍