ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Grocery workers have endured a lot this past year, and on Monday we celebrated them.
The Food Industry Association declared Feb. 22, is Supermarket Employee Day.
From panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, to making sure you are able to get food for your family, grocery store employees are often the unsung heroes of the pandemic. They're a key part of the effort to ensure there is food available for people to put on their tables.
"They've been here every day consistently through the pandemic, taking care of the customers, making sure there's food on the shelves, making sure these customers have what they need," said Hy-Vee Store Manager Jake Bindner.
"It actually makes us feel pretty proud for the work that we've done here at the store, being able to serve our customers because we're glad and appreciate them coming in," said Hy-Vee Produce Department and Delivery Specialist John Hazuka. "And we've been able to take care of them. We've never missed a beat through the whole pandemic."
And while much of the population followed stay at home orders and self-isolated early on in the pandemic, grocery stores remained open and workers remained dedicated to helping their customers.
"The challenges we've faced is making sure that we have everything that the customer needs and that we're showing up everyday, smile on our face as much as we can, and let them know that it's okay; they can come to the store and get what they need," Hazuka said.
"Just goes to show how much we appreciate them and the community appreciating them, and honoring them for all their hard work," Bindner.
Bindner and Hazuka say it's nice to have their profession being recognized.
"And as you can see, they've been here everyday through the pandemic, working hard just like all those frontline workers are," Bindner said. "So they definitely are valued.
"I mean the fact that they recognize those people that are out there and, not taking anything away from any of the other frontline workers, but you know, it's really special I think," Hazuka said. "And I think we are going to take a lot from it."
And there's no question about it, without grocery store workers, we wouldn't be able to purchase food or many of our other basic needs for our families.