As the coronavirus made it’s way to the area, people flocked to Fiesta Foods in Mapleton to stock up on food and supplies.
“It was like the place was on fire without a fire,” said Chuck Ferris. “It’s been crazy.”
Ferris said the “daily rush” is sporadic, sometimes it’s between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or it might be from 2-5 p.m. If the store has a grocery truck coming in that day, people are in the store earlier. The first hour and the last hour of each day are pretty quiet. Ferris said they have shifted some schedules around so they have more employees in the afternoon.
Toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and Ramen noodles were some of the first items to disappear off the shelves.
Items like milk, bread, and eggs also disappeared quickly as supply couldn’t keep up with demand Ferris said.
He said the bread companies started making just four set varieties of bread to get the supply chain moving again. The demand for these items has kind of leveled out.
For the most part, the grocery trucks on Tuesdays and Fridays have been on schedule, but their arrival time has varied.
One of the things that worries Ferris the most is keeping everyone (employees/customers) safe and healthy.
The employees are continuously wiping down door handles, shopping carts, and registers. They sanitize the carts four to five times a day and the registers three times an hour.
Ferris said most customers have been pretty good about social distancing when in the aisles and at the registers.
The main goal is to keep everyone healthy.
Susan LeFebvre and Pastor Jena Manchester from St. John’s United Methodist Church showed up to help stock the shelves at Fiesta after a truck was late in making a delivery one day. They wanted to help in any way they could.
Ferris asked if they would like to come back on Tuesday and help with deliveries. Before the pandemic, Fiesta Foods offered home deliveries, but the demand for this service has increased in recent weeks. Ferris was also interested in the idea of adding curbside pickup.
“Wherever we can be a blessing, we are in,” Pastor Jena said. “Wherever there is a need that is where I want to be.”
Fiesta Foods started offering curbside pickup/deliveries on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, but they found out that three days a week was too much.
Currently, curbside pickup and deliveries are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays and deliveries are made only in Mapleton. They average about 18 orders each day. While about six to eight orders contain about 10 items, other orders are quite large. Items on people’s grocery lists can range from produce to meats to cleaners and even whiteout, Pastor Jena said.
The most orders Pastor Jena and Susan have filled in a day is 27.
Before the pandemic, Fiesta Foods normally had seven to 12 deliveries on either day, Tuesday or Thursday.
“It has really exploded,” Ferris said. “They have been absolutely fantastic!”
Pastor Jena said it is a real challenge grocery shopping for someone else.
“I really don’t want to screw it up. I’m trying to help people,” she said. She joked the most popular items on people’s lists are the ones she can’t find.
“With any given list, I can crisscross the grocery store two to three times,” Pastor Jena said.
She added there are a number of people who don’t want to be out during these times, and the curbside pick-up/deliveries allow them to stay home.
“If I can help them by getting their groceries and delivering them, it’s a win, win,” she said. “It’s important to keep these people at home and keep them safe and healthy.”
Fiesta Foods is donating the delivery/curbside pickup charge back to the MVAO Backpack program.