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Saturday March 28th, 2020 8:09PM

Flying off grocery shelves near you- cleaning supplies, water and other necessities

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist
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Shelves of cleaning supplies and other necessities are quickly disappearing in large grocery chains and locally owned stores due to fears of coronavirus.

“Pretty much the entire cleaning aisle is being bought,” said Emily Wiley, Purchasing and Marketing Director for J&J Foods in Gainesville. “Bleach is probably one of the bigger ones as well as Lysol, basically anything that is going to sterilize and clean.”

One look at the aisles at J&J Foods will prove Wiley’s words are true. There are large empty spaces throughout the cleaning aisle where wipes, spray and bleach are normally located. The same is true for the aisles containing toilet paper and paper towels.

But cleaning supplies are not the only items flying off the shelves at J&J Foods. Bottled water is one commodity quickly disappearing. Customers are also purchasing large quantities of food, particularly dry food like bread, rice and condiments. Milk is another staple in high demand.

The same is true for larger grocery chains like Kroger. Pictures of empty shelves and aisles have circulated on social media for several days.

Wiley said J&J Foods has been working closely with their suppliers to ensure their customers’ demands are met. That includes increasing orders for food and other items to compensate for the number of closed schools.

“We’ve seen that a lot of people are realizing that all of a sudden, they’ve got kids to feed next week,” said Wiley. “We’re trying to identify those items and make sure that we increase our order for tomorrow’s truck and for Monday’s truck and make sure we have those items as much as toilet paper, water and cleaning products.”

Due to the high demand of certain products, stores like Kroger have implemented policies limiting the number of a product a customer can purchase.

A press release from Kroger stated, “We took the precautionary step on March 2 to limit the number of cold, flu and sanitary products per order…so everyone can have access to the items they need.”

Both Kroger and J&J Foods are taking extra steps to ensure the sanitation of their stores.

“We’re making sure that we’re wiping down surfaces that our customers are touching, putting an extra person on cleaning and making sure that we’re sanitizing and disinfecting every surface,” said Wiley.

J&J Foods has also placed wipes at the front of their store for the customers’ extra comfort.

Kroger listed their precautions in the same press release, which include extra cleaning on grocery carts and equipment, placing hand sanitizer bottles for customer use throughout the store and monitoring the health of their employees.

Wiley said they will continue to plan ahead at J&J Foods because of the uncertainty of how long the coronavirus pandemic will last.

“It really is an unknown of how long this is going to go on or what point has everybody bought everything that they need,” said Wiley. “We’re trying to time that out so we can make sure that we can plan for that and go ahead and lock in.”

J&J Foods employee Honto Sims is another example of someone who is planning; she took the time to go ahead and grab her items right after her shift.

“I have a 95-year-old mother-in-law that lives with us,” said Sims. “I’m worried about her health so I’m bringing extra groceries in to make sure we can stay in the house.”

The Georgia Department of Public Health reports that there are 42 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Georgia. The first coronavirus-related death in Georgia occurred this week.

A total of 1,629 cases have been reported in the United States, with 42 of those resulting in deaths. President Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency on Friday.

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