H-E-B develops protocols to keep community supplied

Shoppers stand outside of H-E-B, leaning on their empty carts, waiting so they can finally get a turn inside where only about 25 people can shop at once.

H-E-B has taken many measures to ensure that it reduces the spread of the Coronavirus while people shop in-store, but their efforts did not stop onsite; a plan has been also implemented for those who cannot shop in person.

Other parts of the plan includes protective measures and temporary raises for employees, and food banks and non-profits are receiving some aid from H-E-B. 

Recently, H-E-B placed red stickers on the ground to mark the appropriate distance people should stand apart, promoting social distancing. They have also placed clear shields at pharmacy and cash registers as a protective layer between employees and consumers.

The pharmacy has begun offering free deliveries on prescriptions, a feature available in select areas, but not yet in Kyle.

Employees will receive a pay raise of an additional $2 per hour from March 16 through April 12 due to the higher volumes of demand. And because pressures are so high on employees, H-E-B has changed its hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.

In response to shortages, H-E-B spokespersons said it is fully stocked.

“H-E-B has been preparing for coronavirus and we are in a strong position to keep replenishing our shelves. Customers should not panic, as we are continuing to restock shelves around-the-clock. We are encouraging preparedness, not stockpiling – please buy what you need and leave some for your neighbor behind you. We are in this as a community and it’s important to keep calm. H-E-B Partners are ready to help.”

In an effort to keep items on the shelf, H-E-B placed restrictions on the amounts of products consumers can purchase, especially staple items that people have been buying in bulk.

Limitations on food items include meats, water, eggs, frozen foods, pastas, rice, canned goods, oatmeal, cereal, milk and bread. Non-food items include acetaminophen, baby wipes and diapers, sanitary products, different types of tissues, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and sprays, bleach, hand sanitizers and soaps, latex gloves, masks and rubbing alcohol.

Outside of the store, H-E-B has partnered with Favor to deliver food to people 60 and older, an age group with a higher risk if they contract the virus. The deliveries will be free-of-charge for the first 30 days. To reduce contact, the groceries will be dropped off at the doorstep without interaction.

For community support, the company will initially push $3 million toward organizations to help those affected by COVID-19. Approximately half of the money, $1.2 million, will go toward 18 food banks in Texas, which would provide over six-million meals. Mobilized home-feeding services for seniors and low-income families will receive $500,000. Another $300,000 will be given to Texas Biomedical Research Institute to support the researchers working on the coronavirus. The final $1 million will be pledged to various nonprofits that are helping the community during the virus outbreak.

If a community member is looking to help families effected by COVID-19, H-E-B has launched a Texans Helping Texans initiative where consumers can donate at the register.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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