Sudbury.com's Essential Worker of the Day is a daily feature that applauds our local health care and other essential workers who continue to serve our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We honour an essential worker every day at noon. But that's not all, every other week, we will feature an essential worker as part of our Community Leaders Program.
Sarah Lachance loves waking up knowing she gets to go into work.
The single mom of three manages the cash team and does bookkeeping for the Food Basics in Chelmsford.
"The friendly faces make the job great," Lachance told Sudbury.com. "Before becoming Food Basics I worked for the Metro so I already knew most of the customers we had."
"They are friendly and they know us. We have a great work team and it's a great environment to be working in."
But in light of COVID-19, the panic surrounding the virus brought out the worst in many people during the early stages of the pandemic.
Lachance said customers were coming into the store "like hoarders, panic buying and stalking up."
"It was overwhelming for a lot of the cashiers and staff," Lachance said. "Some customers would come in two times a week and do a $300 order each time."
"It was heartbreaking to see to be honest because not everyone can afford to buy in large amounts."
Lachance said the shortages caused by hoarding customers and suppliers not being able to keep up with demand put a lot of pressure on the staff.
"The rushes of people, the grumpy customers over the other customers hoarding, the rude comments and empty shelves become a lot to deal with."
"We worked long hard hours and the whole experience working during the peak of COVID was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting."
The store implemented various protocols to ensure the safety of both its staff and shoppers including sanitizing the carts and cashes after each use, personal protective equipment for staff, installing plexi-glass and reducing the amount of check-out lanes to maintain safe distance.
Now, as we head into the fourth month of the pandemic, the grocery store is still having to deal with late shipments and shortages on many items such as berries, bath salts, soups and sanitizing wipes but Lachance said overall, things have calmed down.
"The customers and staff are adjusting very well," she said. "They seem to now understand that this is the new norm and unfortunately it is how we have to go about our day."
To help, Lachance recommends customers do their shopping alone, if they're able.
- Try to limit the number of people you bring shopping.
- Limit the amount of trips you make.
- But most importantly, be patient and kind.
"We can't control shortages so please don't take it out on us."
"We are working extra hard right now and would appreciate a smile or a thank you once in a while. You would be surprised how it could change someone's day."
"We very much appreciate all the work the staff has put in during this time. Thank you for all you do."
At the end of a hard day's work, Lachance then goes home to her three children, Drake, 13, Kendra, 7, and Quinton "Q" who is 5.
Thankfully, Lachance's mother lives with them and is able to stay with the kids while Lachance is at work.
"Juggling a full time job, the kids, household chores and try to find time for myself is not easy," she said. "I'm exhausted, I'm tired and I get stressed from time to time."
"But I love my job."
"I just remind myself that it's all worth it and that one day things won't be so hard. Until then, I always make sure to remember the little things that make me happy."