By: N.L. Preston
HOUSTON – With the panic of food shortages and the still questionable race to stock up on toilet paper sweeping the nation, H-E-B’s Scott McClelland wants to reassure Texans that there are enough supplies to help us get through our shelter-in-place and social distancing initiatives as we all safely strive to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
African-American News&Issues went straight to the top, speaking with the H-E-B president this week, to help calm the fears of the community.
“I can assure people that we are not going to run out of food. Every day we are shipping out about 1,600 trailers to our stores across Texas and prior to the issues dealing with Coronavirus, we were averaging about 900 trailers per day. We have really been able to increase our capacity significantly,” McClelland said. “As restaurants have closed down, the people of Texas are now relying on supermarkets more than ever. Now you may not find the exact item you want. For instance, you may have to buy chicken thighs today and come back for chicken wings tomorrow, but you still will have chicken, pasta and any other item you are looking for.”
McClelland admits the biggest challenge all retailers are having right now is toilet paper. He explained that toilet paper manufacturers are going above and beyond to keep up with the distribution needs, but cautioned consumers to think of others while out shopping.
“We’ve seen people coming in to buy more than what they need, so what we have been saying to customers is ‘just buy what you need and leave some for your neighbors. Be kind,'” McClelland said. “There is going to be enough for everybody, providing that the people don’t hoard.”
H-E-B is also taking preventative measures to protect both its employees and the customers.
“We have put up an acrylic shield between our checkers and customers, which is designed to protect everyone,” McClelland explained. “We’ve added new COVID managers to the stores who help to enforce social distancing and sanitization. Our employees sanitize the stores throughout the day, and since we know these are stressful times for everyone, we’ve enacted a $2 per hour bonus for everyone who is working for us.”
McClelland says H-E-B is aware that many of its employees have incurred additional costs with daily expenses and childcare, with schools now being closed, and the company wants to help wherever it can.
To further help the community, H-E-B made a $3 million donation to food banks and Meals on Wheels.
“We knew that with the devasting impact this would have on the economy, in particular on the food service and hospitality workers, a lot of people would be now be unemployed,” McClelland said. “And for the elderly who must stay at home, we definitely want to take care of them as well.”
McClelland said in an effort to boost the local economy, the company also recently ordered food from local restaurants to feed employees at H-E-B’s 90 Houston locations.
These days, every little bit counts, and when you have more, you do more.