Amazon, Whole Foods Announce Special Grocery Pickup Hour for Seniors, At-Risk Customers

Amazon and Whole Foods Market are making changes to their grocery pickup options to help protect the most at-risk amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, the company announced that it would be reserving the first hour of grocery pickup to those in the at-risk groups, including the elderly, disabled, and the immunocompromised. The move falls in line with measures taken by other companies, including Walmart.

"Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen an unprecedented demand for grocery delivery and pickup within the communities we serve. In response, Amazon and Whole Foods Market have worked continuously to increase capacity and serve as many customers as possible," the company announced. "Now, as a way to support the most vulnerable communities during this pandemic, the first hour of grocery pickup at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide is reserved for customers 60 years and older, those with disabilities, and those whom the CDC defines as high risk."

For safer grocery pickup, those in the at-risk groups can visit amazon.com/wholefoods. Once there, they should select "Pickup" and begin adding items to their cart. At checkout, they will then have the option to select the first pickup window of the day, which is marked reserved for at-risk customers. Pickup is currently available at more than 150 Whole Foods Market stores.

The announcement is similar to one made by Whole Foods in March as states began to be placed under lockdowns. On March 17, the grocer announced that beginning on March 18, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. and Canada would open an hour early to customers 60 and older, allowing them to shop before doors opened to the general public. The policy was extended to people 70 and older shopping at Whole Foods in the U.K. beginning on March 19.

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"We are setting aside this time to help these customers, who national health authorities have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, feel more comfortable shopping our stores and helping to ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment," the announcement read.

Amid the global pandemic, Amazon and Whole Foods have enacted a number of new policies to help customers more easily shop via grocery pickup and also make them feel safer. Along with hiring tens of thousands of new employees to help keep up with demand, Amazon, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture expanded online access to SNAP in multiple states. It has also limited the purchase quantities of high-demand items and has given customers the option of "unattended delivery."