Working at grocery stores during a pandemic


Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

The Cheney Safeway is one of many grocery stores that have had to make COVID-19-related guidelines for their customers and employees.

By Emily Driskel, Reporter

With grocery stores labeled as essential during the stay-at-home order, it has been crucial for individuals to shop for food while remaining safe. This quarantine has brought changes for EWU student employees. 

Grocery stores have been impacted greatly during the pandemic, leaving people rushing inside to stock up on food and other necessary items for the week. Certain aisles have been left empty, leaving employees to stock quickly to keep customers happy.

Allison Butterfield, a freshman working at Trader Joe’s in Spokane, said that the pandemic has affected her job in many ways. 

“I have switched to working mostly opening shifts because the majority of our business is done in the morning when everything is fully stocked,” said Butterfield. “I have had to adapt to wearing a mask and gloves and trying my best to stay six feet apart from everyone.”

With an increase of customers due to the start of the pandemic, it has become important for workers to serve people’s needs while keeping their safety a priority. 

COVID-19 has affected sophomore Curtis Fink’s job in ways such as adjusting work hours. Fink works in the organic section of Rosauers called Huckleberry’s in Spokane, stocking the shelves and helping customers find products. 

“The store has been busier which has made it more difficult to keep items on the shelves, making it more likely for me to stay overtime,” said Fink. 

Brianna Steele, a junior working as a cashier at Rosauers, said that she has had to do a lot more cleaning. 

“We do not always have the products people need [or] want (especially toilet paper),” said Steele. 

Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner
An aisle of the Cheney Safeway. Most grocery stores, including this one, have measures in place to encourage social distancing.

Steele said there have been many new safety precautions at work. 

“We have stickers on the ground to remind people in line to stay six feet apart from each other… and we only use every other checkstand in an effort to adhere to social distancing practices,” said Steele. 

These three students were asked about their experience balancing online school with work during the pandemic.

Butterfield said the pandemic has not affected her school life greatly. 

“The only real difference is having to schedule in my Zoom meetings with my work schedule,” said Butterfield. “All of my professors have been very understanding and have allowed for lots of time to finish my assignments.”

With work hours being disorganized, Fink said that balancing school and work has been difficult.

“Work has made it difficult to do homework during the week so I’ve been stuck doing large projects on the weekend,” said Fink. 

Steele said that she has been able to balance school and work pretty well.

“I only work on the weekends so I can make sure I get all my school work done on time,” said Steele. 

Despite the circumstances, Butterfield said that her crew still finds a way to make the best of the current situation. Since only 30-40 people are allowed in the store, Butterfield’s coworkers will play musical instruments while customers wait in line. 

“They will play a guessing game of who can guess which Disney song the fastest,” said Butterfield. “In addition, it has been fun to see all the different masks and their patterns.”

These student employees have been working hard with the extra cleaning responsibilities, keeping items stocked and practicing social distancing while serving customers. The pandemic has certainly caused many changes within grocery store protocol. 

“We have been receiving so many thank you cards from customers and are told daily about how appreciated we are,” said Butterfield. “Everyone has been so polite and understanding of the situation.”