Supermarket buys nearly $200,000 in restaurant gift cards, hands them out to employees

Schnucks Fresh Foods in Lawndale, MO. (Credit: Schnuck Markets, Inc.)

Schnuck Markets, Inc. announced it will purchase gift cards from local restaurants and hand them out to store employees in an effort to curb the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The supermarket chain said it will spend nearly $200,000, giving employees a $15 gift card to a restaurant located within five miles of their work location.

"As many families do this time of year, we wanted to support others in our ‘food family’ – in this case the many local restaurants negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic," Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck said in a statement. "We thought the best way to do this was by offering all of our teammates gift cards to these restaurants near our stores, extending our mission to nourish people’s lives to those many businesses and their employees who help make up the communities that we jointly serve."

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The company has previously helped out the local restaurant industry. In April, the company started selling restaurants’ grab and go meals at its stores. In July, the company expanded its agreement in an effort to focus on Black-owned businesses.

Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. States and counties have enacted various restrictions limiting indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants. The blow is especially hard for restaurants in the northern states where restaurants have to contend with the cold weather making outdoor dining nearly impossible.

The United States has seen more than 17.5 million positive coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 300,000 Americans have died from the virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The decision came days after the FDA granted the same application to Pfizer/BioNTech.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.