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Some businesses offering special hours to older patrons amid coronavirus pandemic

A handful of grocers are opening early to allow older folks to shop without large crowds.

AUSTIN, Texas — As many people flock to grocery stores to stock up on supplies, our older population is often left in the dust.

While both City and State officials have repeatedly asked people to stop hoarding groceries, that hasn't stopped many from swarming their local food marts.

As a result, some major suppliers have decided to dedicate some time for our most vulnerable population to get first dibs:

  • Whole Foods: Opening an hour early every day for seniors 
  • Dollar General: Opening an hour early every day for seniors
  • Target: On Wednesdays, first hour of business dedicated to seniors
  • Walmart: On Tuesday, first hour of business (an hour before the store is scheduled to open) is dedicated to seniors

"They're the ones we're all trying to stay inside for, they're the ones that are going to be in the most danger with what's going on," said Morgan Graham, a Target employee. 

AGE of Central Texas offers a wide variety of services and resources for older adults and caregivers. Marketing Director Rob Faubion encourages young people to stay in quarantine.

"You may feel fine, but you may be carrying the virus and you may give that to someone who doesn't have the immunity to fight it," said Faubion.

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H-E-B, on the other hand, has said it has chosen not to do so. A spokesperson for the Texas food chain released the following statement:

"Many customers have inquired about designating time for seniors to shop prior to the stores opening to the general public. We appreciate all our customers and thank them for this suggestion. Our leadership team studied this option thoroughly and due to recommendations from health officials and the CDC we have determined this is not the best and safest option for our customers. H-E-B takes care of Texas and we feel asking a group to congregate at our stores in a certain timeframe is not a safe idea. H-E-B will continue to find innovative ways to support our seniors and all Texans in need. We are focused on promoting social distancing and developing more ways to deliver products to those who need it by improving Curbside and Home Delivery availability and access for all.

We are working closely with local non-profits and Texas food banks to get product to those who need it the most. H-E-B announced it will make an initial $3 million commitment to support Texas nonprofits helping vulnerable communities and organizations conducting groundbreaking coronavirus research. With this gift, H-E-B’s partnership with local nonprofits will provide relief to some of our most vulnerable neighbors: seniors, children and low-income families. Part of this commitment will provide $500,000 in financial assistance to organizations dedicated to mobilized home feeding services for seniors and low-income families such as Meals on Wheels."

On March 20, H-E-B announced that it has instead launched "Texans Helping Texans."

H-E-B, in partnership with Favor Delivery, gives seniors access to a personal shopper by phone, allowing them to get food and supplies delivered to them, while remaining at home. Beginning on Friday, seniors across Texas, age 60 and older, will be able to place orders with Favor using a curated list of products from H-E-B.

H-E-B and Favor will launch a Senior Support phone line with volunteers from both companies to accept and process orders over the telephone from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. The Senior Support Line can be reached at 1-833-397-0080.

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