(WSIL) -- Nurses, teachers, first responders and more have been recognized for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the Food Industry Association has proclaimed Monday Supermarket Employee Day.
The Food Industry Association reports at least 4.8 million employees work in a grocery store in the U.S.
Neighborhood Co-op Grocery general manager, Francis Murphy, says from dealing with supply and demand to safeguards, operating during COVID-19 has been a challenge for his staff.
"Not only have they had to manage their own fears about getting the coronavirus but they've also had to deal with customers who are also fearful and in some cases aggressive," he said.
Monday is Supermarket Employee Day, honoring those who work to help feed families and individuals. Murphy says the store has spent thousands of dollars for PPE and says his employees have gone over and beyond to protect and serve customers.
"There's been points in time in the last 12 months where we've had a greeter at the door who's doing a couple things: asking people to wear their masks and secondly, to actually meter the number of people who come into the store because at various points in the pandemic we've been asked to limit capacity," he said.
He says no employees were laid off, and they actually had to hire more. The new Deli manager says they had different strategies to get customers to dine with them again.
"We were doing a lot of packaged foods in the grab and go sections. It was interesting to see the customers come in and have good days and bad days too but we've really been able to see the improvement," said deli counter manager, Rachael Kvetof.
Murphy says he appreciates his team and told News 3 WSIL they've returned $60,000 in bonuses for their work.
"We've been grateful to the staff who work at the store, continuing to make this a warm and welcoming environment," said Murphy.
Murphy says right now some employees are getting their vaccine and are ready to get back to normal.