The coronavirus has forced Santa Clarita Grocery to cope with an increased demand for their services and to change the way they serve their clients.
Santa Clarita Grocery, a nonprofit that provides weekly groceries to families in need, has seen demand for their services increase by 400 percent due to the economic impact of coronavirus, according to Santa Clarita Grocery founder Bradley Gross.
“COVID-19 actually has brought a huge challenge that we very quickly had to get our arms around,” Gross said. “Prior to COVID-19, we were serving probably 40 to 50 families a week. Post-COVID, we have quadrupled in the number of families coming here. So we’re at 150 plus to close to 200 families weekly.”
Fortunately, donations have increased as well and Santa Clarita Grocery has been able to meet the demand. Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit, is scheduled to provide a truck-load of food. Community Foundation of the Valleys has also provided them with a $10, 000 matching grant, according to Gross.
Aside from the increased pressure of feeding more families, responding to the changing landscape caused by the coronavirus has required them to adapt the ways they serve their clients.
Before COVID, Santa Clarita Grocery operated much like a grocery store. Clients would walk through the aisles making their selections from products displayed on tables and shelves around the warehouse. The coronavirus has forced them to change that system.
In response to safety concerns for their volunteers and clients caused by COVID-19, they’ve changed their business model to curbside pick-up. Clients check in at a table set up in front of the warehouse, then wait in their car for their groceries to be brought out. Only volunteers are allowed inside the warehouse, where they collect and bag clients orders.
“We had to turn this operation upside down,” Gross said. “Our team got our heads together and each week we perfected the new system. Our volunteers have shifted to where now they are our shoppers, shopping for our guests who are waiting in their cars.”
Changing the way they serve their clients has actually helped the organization increase its efficiency. Volunteers who know the layout of the warehouse can find things more quickly and bag orders faster than clients could for themselves. This has led to a 67 percent increase in efficiency which has helped them cope with the increased demand, according to Gross.
Aside from keeping clients outside of the warehouse, volunteers now wear gloves and masks at all times, and older or immunocompromised volunteers were encouraged to stay home. But even in the midst of a pandemic, there has not been a shortage of people wanting to help those who are less fortunate, according to Gross.
“When COVID hit, we took the executive decision to let all of our volunteers take a hiatus who were over 55,” Gross said. “So we lost a big chunk of them on hiatus. However, there’s been a whole nother slew of people that have come in and it’s just been beautiful to watch how it’s happened.”
While Santa Clarita Grocery and their 75 volunteers acclimate to their new system and adapt to absorb the increased demand, they are expecting the number of families needing their service to continue increasing, according to Gross.
“We just got through phase one of COVID, how we see phase one. We’re now anticipating a wave two,” Gross said. “Because this hasn’t gone away. And so there are still people that are not going to work. So we’re anticipating an even bigger group of people beginning to come here. So that’s what we’re preparing for.”Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send an email to email@example.com. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox. Report a typo or error, email Corrections@hometownstation.com
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