Local stores offer drive-thru grocery pickup, but it may take days to receive order

photo by: Lauren Fox

A car waits in the pickup grocery area at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway, on March 25.

Local grocery stores are offering a drive-thru grocery pickup service, an action that may help reduce crowding in-store and allow for at-risk customers to maintain social-distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak.

In most cases, customers can order their groceries online, drive to the store and have a worker load the groceries into their trunk.

But one customer who has been enjoying the benefits of this service at Checkers Foods said that recently the pickup time for her groceries extended from same-day pickup to a six-day delay.

A reader who contacted the Journal-World said she used to be able to put an order in during the morning and pick it up that afternoon, but when she called Checkers on Tuesday she was notified that the earliest pickup would be after 6 p.m. on Monday, March 30. She also wrote that an inquiry at Dillons informed her that the wait for groceries there would be at least a couple of days.

Checkers did not respond to requests for comment from the Journal-World, and Dillons was unable to immediately answer questions.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

The Dillons parking lot near Sixth and Wakarusa on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

The Lawrence Hy-Vee online shopping manager, however, noted a delay at her store. Jan Hornberger said that under normal circumstances, if people put in an order by 1 p.m., they can pick it up that same day. But now, the store has had to cap how many orders it can do in a day.

Hornberger said they’ve “never dealt with a situation like this.”

photo by: Lauren Fox

Hy-Vee employee Jacob Hopkins puts groceries into the trunk of a customer’s car on March 25. The Lawrence Hy-Vee has seen increased use of its “Aisles Online” program due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, Hornberger said if a person ordered groceries that day they would not be available for pickup until Sunday.

The Merc Co-op announced Tuesday that it was introducing curbside pickup at the store at Ninth and Iowa streets, noting that it recommends the service for those who are considered high risk. The Merc declined to offer senior hours at its store, thinking it was unwise to gather the most vulnerable shoppers at the same time.

Curbside orders at The Merc must be placed 24 hours in advance, and orders may be placed up to five days in advance of pickup.

photo by: Contributed Photo

Lowen Millspaugh, merchandising manager at The Merc Co-op, delivers an order to a shopper’s vehicle. The Merc’s grocery pickup program officially launched on March 24.

“At this time, we do not have the capacity to offer same day service nor pick up on Saturday and Sunday; but, things are changing rapidly and we can, too,” Marketing Director Valerie Taylor Richardson said in an email. “We are working to train a number of employees so that our program will remain a reliable resource for our community.”

Local nonprofits have also been helping to provide and deliver groceries to the community.

Hornberger, the Hy-Vee online shopping manager, said the Douglas County Senior Resource Center has been helping by picking up grocery orders at the store and delivering them to seniors’ homes.

Just Food has shifted to distributing pre-packaged boxes of groceries for pick-up.

Families are able to drive through Just Food’s facility, 1000 E. 11th St., on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays between noon and 5 p.m. to pick up a free two-week supply of food.

photo by: Contributed Photo

Just Food staff and volunteers help prepare boxes for residents picking up groceries.

In one week, the nonprofit served 1,217 households, according to a Sunday press release. Of those households, 59% had never used the food pantry’s services before, and 14% were senior citizens. Just Food Executive Director Elizabeth Keever said people who have recently been laid off were some of the pantry’s new clients.

Just Food is calling for donations in order to continue providing food to needy families in the community. Each box of food costs $20, Keever said, and includes milk, eggs, fresh produce and “pantry staples” such as rice and beans. Grocery boxes are also available for specialty diets such as gluten-free or vegetarian.

Some local stores installing protective barriers at check-outs

In a further effort to protect employees and shoppers during the pandemic, some local grocery stores are installing “sneeze guards” to separate customers from the employees working the check-out lanes.

CNN reported Wednesday that Walmart and Kroger will be installing plexiglass sneeze guards in the coming weeks to help protect employees from the spread of coronavirus. Kroger owns the Dillons grocery store brand.

Lawrence’s Hy-Vee has already implemented the change. A sign below the installed panels says “Temporary window panels have been installed for the well-being of our customers and employees.”

photo by: Lauren Fox

Some stores, including Hy-Vee, are using temporary window panels during the coronavirus pandemic to separate employees from customers.

More coverage: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the pandemic continues, the Journal-World will be making coverage of COVID-19 available outside of the paywall on LJWorld.com.

Find all coverage of city, county and state responses to the virus at: ljworld.com/coronavirus/

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What to do if you think you may have COVID-19

Patients who have symptoms — difficulty breathing, cough and fever — should stay home, immediately isolate themselves from others and call their health care providers. Patients should never show up unannounced at a medical office or hospital. Instead, they should call ahead to explain their symptoms and give health care workers the ability to minimize the risk to others.

If patients do not have health care providers, they may call the Lawrence Douglas-County health department’s coronavirus line, 785-856-4343.

For updated information on the outbreak, Kansas residents can email COVID-19@ks.gov or call 866-534-3463 (866-KDHEINF), which is staffed 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

More information can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website or the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health website.


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