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'Help Wanted': Grocery stores hiring thousands of workers to meet demand

Some stores have also announced plans to reward employees and are paying those eligible a bonus while expanding emergency leave policies.

SAN DIEGO — Grocery store chains have announced plans to reward current employees and hire thousands more to meet demand.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is adding 150,000 positions nationwide and paying a bonus to eligible hourly employees who have worked in its stores during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our associates have been heroic during this time. They’ve been really committed to stocking shelves as quickly as possible and doing their best to keep our stores clean. In our communities, we’re seeing when our associates are needed most that they’ve stepped up and have been at their best,” said Tiffany Wilson, Director of Communications for Walmart.

Grocery stores are still working to keep shelves stocked but maintain there is adequate food in the supply chain.

Several stores have reduced hours to give employees time to clean and stock shelves without customers in the aisles. Walmart said it is keeping associate’s regular shift times to prevent disruption to their lives.

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Ralph’s and Food 4 Less, which are both owned by Kroger, sent 850 truckloads to stores across Southern California from its four distribution centers. It is also limiting the number of people who can enter the store to maintain social distancing and limiting the number of items shoppers can purchase to prevent hoarding.

The stores are paying current eligible employees a bonus and expanding emergency leave policies. Ralph’s and Food 4 Less say none of its employees have tested positive for coronavirus. Combined, the two chains are adding 500 full-time, part-time and temporary positions in the region, which it says can give new hires some flexibility for those who are in need of a new job or are waiting for their old employer to reopen.

“We’re seeing people from hospitality industries who are looking for some work. It may just be temporary to get them through. It may be college students who are doing online courses for the rest of the semester. We would love for them to come join our team, too,” said John Votava, Director of Corporate Affairs for Ralph’s and Kroger.

Sprouts also announced plans to hire more than 300 new people in its Southern California stores. Many of the openings are for a newly created utility position that helps keep stores clean, stocks shelves and fill in wherever needed. They have been welcoming resumes from recently laid-off workers in the restaurant and hospitality region.

“The skillsets those individuals use in their current job transfer very well to Sprouts team members. We’re seeing a lot of people from restaurants, hospitality, other non-essential retailers that are looking for employment right now,” said Hollie Becker, Director of Talent Acquisition at Sprouts.

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