Hurricane Sally wasn’t very kind to Alabama and Florida. The post-tropical cyclone wasn’t originally on the 2020 bingo card but it happened and the community, impacted, reached out to us. Before Hurricane Sally struck, locals in Alabama and Upper-Florida weren’t expecting the Hurricane to hit them. However, Hurricane Sally arrived with the wrath of Uma Thurman from Kill bill with gusts up to one-hundred and twenty-three miles per hour, and various areas received thirty inches of rain. If you’re a driver, you’d know that one-hundred and twenty-three miles per hour is a speed that most of us have never experienced. Despite Hurricane Sally’s rage and wrath - the wrath of a hurricane doesn’t compare to how angry everyone will feel when they discover what USA grocery stores in Alabama and Florida did during the hurricane. 

Spoon University interviewed several sources (grocery store employees & managers) who are currently employed at various grocery stores such as Walmart, Whole Foods, Rouse’s Market The Fresh Market, Publix Super Market, Winn-Dixie.

After speaking with several employees from each store across Florida and Alabama, we discovered three shocking truths:

Grocery stores offered zero-to-little support to employees in their areas. 

Unique Michael

A source from Fresh Market told Spoon University that they would be losing hours but there would be no way to make up for those hours until the store figured out its reopening strategy. Being that Fresh Market has a lot of money, it doesn't make sense why a company couldn’t take care of its own employee during a natural disaster. A second source from Publix Super Market told Spoon University that they felt pressured to come in the day of reopening after their relative’s home was destroyed. Being that they are hourly-paid employees, they felt pressured between their job and their family. The third source from Whole Foods Market told Spoon University that they did not receive adequate pre-training and support regarding Hurricanes. They said the company didn’t give them enough time to prepare for the hurricane before the hurricane actually hit. They requested off work but their managers would not give the time off that was requested.

Grocery stores did not alert locals about the oncoming hurricane.

Unique Michael

A source from Pensacola, Florida told us grocery stores in their area did not encourage them to buy supplies. As a tourist, the source had no idea a hurricane was coming. We don’t know why there are tourists during COVID-19. However, this source told us the grocery stores did not care about anything except for making money and selling alcohol. A second source from Daphne, Alabama told Spoon University they went to pick up water from their local Fresh Market but their employees weren’t helpful when they asked about water supplies. The third source from Panama City told us they did not receive text message or email warnings from their grocery stores regarding stock being out for basic necessities such as clean drinking water. Their mobile app communicated there was water. However, when they arrived at the grocery store, they found themselves staring at empty shelves. 

Grocery stores cared more about making money than helping their communities.

Unique Michael

A source from Walmart told Spoon University that managers at Walmart were talking to each other about the hurricane and boasted about the sales they’d receive. WorldWildLife states 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system because we waste food. American grocery store companies are destroying the planet. They contribute to the 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions. A second source from Whole Foods Market, who began working at the store in 2019, told us 80% of the store’s produce was thrown away while their store was closed during the hurricane. The source at Whole Foods Market begged and pleaded for their store manager to donate the fresh produce to a local homeless shelter before closing the store for the hurricane. However, the manager at Whole Foods Market told the source that wasn’t company policy.

There are currently countless families who have been impacted by Hurricane Sally and are without food and/or power. If Whole Foods Market and other grocery stores failed the community as a whole, we can only imagine what the marginalized communities (people of color) are experiencing right now. If you’d like to help support the community who has been impacted by Hurricane Sally, we’d recommend donating to this fundraiser that seeks to provide relief to the black community in impacted areas.

Hurricane Sally was no joke and the fact that grocery stores think that it's ok to throw out up to 80% of their products after being shut down for a couple of days isn't cool. People still need to eat, and it's not like most of the restaurants that they know and love are going to be open for business.