- Foodservice company Aramark is converting existing retail space at healthcare facilities into “pop-up” grocery stores to serve frontline healthcare workers, according to a press release.
- The stores, which now number more than 100, carry items such as bread, milk, eggs, non-perishable products and paper goods that Aramark obtains through its existing network of distributors.
- Aramark said it launched the mini grocery stores to provide easy access to groceries for medical workers. “Creating these pop-up grocery stores is our way of providing a small convenience for them to procure essential items they need,” Jeff Gilliam, president of Aramark’s healthcare unit, said in a statement.
Aramark’s foray into grocery sales is part of a broader trend that has seen companies that normally focus on foods intended for on-site consumption selling items for people to use at home during the pandemic.
Restaurant chains like Panera and Subway have added produce and pantry items to keep money coming in as the pandemic crimped their standard revenue streams. Aramark, which has also had to shuffle its operations as restaurants, schools and other traditional business outlets shut down, said it decided to carry groceries as a way to help workers save time and avoid hazards.
“Allowing essential workers and front-line employees to shop within their own workplaces gives them convenient access to essential groceries and saves them the time and health risks of stopping at traditional grocery stores,” Aramark said in publication it issued to describe its efforts.
Supermarket operators have taken steps to make it easier for healthcare workers and first responders to shop for groceries during the pandemic. Grocers such as Giant Eagle, Winn-Dixie, Cub Foods and various Kroger banners all set aside special shopping hours for people in these roles.
Aramark opened its first pop-up convenience store at a hospital in New Orleans in March, and expanded the concept, known as Provisions on Demand, to additional locations where it does business, including healthcare facilities and college campuses.
Aramark is not the only foodservice company serving the healthcare industry to start selling groceries during the pandemic. Cura, which also manages food operations at healthcare facilities and senior living communities, announced in May that it had started turning hospital cafeterias in several states into grocery stores. In a twist, the company has repurposed the salad bar at Indiana Regional Medical Center in Indiana, Pennsylvania, into a grab-and-go store that stocks items like boxed cereal, pasta, bread, canned food and paper products.