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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Giant Eagle Shifting Akron Location To Delivery, Pick-Up Only

Giant Eagle is shifting one Akron-area location to focus entirely on delivery and curbside pickup, to meet increasing demand and maintain social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

The move will allow the store, located in Cuyahoga Falls on Howe Avenue, to take on a majority of the area’s delivery orders, said spokesperson Jannah Jablonowski. That will free up other resources for nearby locations, Jablonowski said.

“There are a lot of locations within reasonable distance,” Jablonowski said. “Shoppers who typically do shop in person at the Howe Avenue location will have reasonably close options if they choose to continue shopping with us in person.”

Nearby Giant Eagle stores will continue to offer curbside pickup, Jablonowski said.

“We’re really opening up capacity to add more slots and more availability to our other curbside locations, as well as creating availability at the Howe Avenue location,” she said.

Curbside pickup is also now available for families relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to a Wednesday press release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). Families receiving those benefits will be permitted to place orders for groceries over the phone during the pandemic, the release said.

“This is a welcome development in these challenging times,” ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said in the release.  “It will help keep families safe as we all work together to limit social distancing and stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Grocery stores cannot accept an EBT card over the phone, according to the press release, but it can be scanned using mobile point-of-sale options or stores can allow SNAP users to order ahead and come inside only to pay and pick up orders.

Howe Avenue store employees will have the option to continue working at that location and fulfill delivery orders to move temporarily to a nearby location in a different position, Jablonowski said.. The grocery chain is also hiring more employees to work as curbside shoppers at the Howe Avenue location.

“We’re going to have our curbside personal shoppers, shopping that store just like they would if it were open to the general public,” Jablonowski said. “It will just be more of a streamlined process. There will be a lot more curbside shoppers on the floor, knowing that they won’t be interfering with customer traffic.”

The grocery chain may choose stores in other cities to take on the same role if the shift at Howe Avenue is successful, Jablonowski said.

“We have really seen unprecedented demand for curbside pickup and delivery services,” Jablonowski said. “We don’t really anticipate that cooling off just yet.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the location is in Cuyahoga Falls, near Akron.

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