We’ve all noticed the long lines in front of our local markets in recent weeks in order to adhere to social distancing. In addition, employees are wearing masks and gloves. 

Many only know that they are having to wait in line and have no idea what’s happening behind the scenes.

While people wait patiently, essential workers are rushing to fill the shelves with produce, paper goods and dairy products, doing their best to provide customers with all of their needs. 

Fairway Market employees use proper face coverings as they work. Photo taken Friday, April 3. 
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The problem? The markets aren’t getting all of their orders and deliveries are running days behind schedule.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (C&S) is a grocery supply company that sends products throughout the nation, including to our community.

According to a press release from March 30, C&S wrote they are encouraging sick employees to stay home and have instructed all employees who can work from home to do so.

Since the Stay-at-Home order, the once on-time, fully stocked deliveries are now delayed with few supplies and no explanation as to why.

Marisa Q. Griffith, co-owner of Wildland Organics (left), and Amy Andres McMahon (right) donated handmade masks constructed by local resident Jan Callahan, handmade sanitizer by Wildland Organics and a dozen fresh donuts made by McMahon to Village Market employees Saturday morning. The donation was to help keep them safe and uplift their spirits. Austin Baird (center), Village Market’s kitchen manager, accepted the donation on behalf of the Village Market employees.
Photo by Jenny Kirchner

Village Market owner Reem Barakat said, “We are handling the situation and we will try to always have the necessities for our community. We don’t know why the deliveries are delayed.”

Fairway Market employee Geri Peterson said, “Our contact at C&S isn’t giving us any information at all, but our driver says the drivers are actually going home because they don’t have the products to fill to put on a truck to drive, so it’s affecting the drivers as well.” 

If that is the case, it may mean the warehouses are short workers that are either not willing to come to work out of fear of becoming sick or are sick themselves.

“There really hasn’t been any confirmed reason as to why this is happening, but we are pretty much at C&S’s mercy,” Peterson said. “What they give us is what we got. We aren’t their only store either. They deal with Kroger and Whole Foods just to name a couple. We kind of feel like we are being rationed.”

C&S was contacted for comment but did not respond by press time.

Fairway’s deliveries are now cut by more than half.

“We would be getting 36 pallets on a normal delivery and now we are getting 15,” Peterson said. “That’s frozen, grocery, deli, dairy and pet food. Deli and dairy are coming back and doing better. I see a big improvement in that department.”

Peterson expressed her appreciation to the community for continuing to shop locally while keeping in mind that employees are doing their very best to provide the community with as much as they can.

“Without the public, we don’t have jobs,” said Peterson. “I hope people keep shopping. Just be patient — we are doing the best we can.

“Today I got everything I ordered with milk and eggs, which is showing some improvement,” Peterson explained. “I took the signs down and people can now buy what they need without limits. We are keeping an eye on it, and if we get another surge, I’ll have to put the signs back up.”

Fairway had placed limits on the amount of eggs and milk customers could purchase when their stock was low. But for now, that has been lifted.

With all of the changes, Peterson explained how the reality of the situation is impacting her personally: “I found myself a little emotional. This town has been through so much. Seeing businesses close, it gets more real. I’ve been here 24 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.

“The town is amazing and we will prevail through this, too,” Peterson said at the close of the interview. “We’ve been through a flood. We’ve been through a fire and we’ve been through road closures.” With a hint of humor and a laugh she added, “The only thing we haven’t had hit is an earthquake. That would just about do it.” 

Within a matter of hours a 4.9 earthquake 17 kilometers east-southeast of Anza shook the mountain with aftershocks lasting into the night.