COVID-19: The Real Effects on Restaurant Supply Chain Employees
Jacob Miller has experience in the supply chain, most recently through a company that provides fresh ingredients to the restaurant industry. As part of our series “COVID-19: The Real Effects on Restaurant Supply Chain Employees,” we wanted to look at the invisible workers moving behind the scenes to make sure that the restaurants you love have the goods that they need to deliver your experience. Miller is grounded by his work, sharing an everyman point-of-view that gives shape to the uncertainty of his time. What can displaced restaurant supply chain staff do now? And what comes next? COVID-19 real effects on the kitchen staff
How did you get into the supply chain business? Can you tell us anything about your warehousing experience?
Jacob Miller: I’ve worked in warehousing for decades, but my experience in the produce supply chain side has only been within the last year.
In specific, what kind of precautions did you take in the warehouse before the outbreak of CV-19 to guarantee food safety?
JM: We followed basic food-handling safe practices. Frequent hand-washing was a must, and any product that touched the floor would be thrown away.
How big is the operation that you work for, at least to your knowledge?
JM: Relatively large. We supply produce, meat, and seafood to restaurants in at least five states, and receive products from all over the nation. When shipments of vegetables started to dwindle in the last few days I was there, the writing was on the wall.
When did it start to seem like the coronavirus might present a problem to the operation? Were there any signs before it became the primary news item?
JM: When our receiving department started to slow down due to limited inbound traffic, it became obvious that we were in trouble. There had been talking here and there before the 24/7 news onslaught, but not being in management, I can’t say how much actual conversation was happening.
Were you laid off? Did the business shutter or do you think it will? More importantly, do you think it’s permanent?
JM: I was laid off a few weeks ago. As far as whether or not the company will go out of business, I’m not sure. I doubt it, considering that it was a relatively large operation with business in several states, but I’m not privy to their financials. I genuinely hope not.
Can you draw unemployment benefits?
JM: As far as I know, yes. I registered about 1 1/2 weeks ago and attempted to file for my first benefit payment this morning. Fingers crossed, I suppose. This is all a new experience for me.
What was the process like to get benefits? Do you think it could be easier in your state?
JM: I registered via the KY Unemployment Benefits website. The process seemed simple, but until I’ve received a payment, I really can’t confirm whether it was “easy” or not. Everything feels very up in the air, and I’m dreadfully worried about how the next month’s bills are going to be paid.
What do you hope happens next? Do you think the industry will recover?
JM: I haven’t the foggiest idea and it’s terrifying. There will eventually be an industry again, but I don’t want to proclaim with any naive hope that everything will go back to the way it was.
Is there anything you wish might’ve been handled differently about the response to the virus? What can employers (current or otherwise) do to help displaced workers?
JM: From the standpoint of how my company handled it? No, not really. The federal government seems to have bungled the early response as badly as possible, and the current talk of “saving the economy” at the cost of actual human lives is repugnant, but in the current climate, expected. Paid time off of any sort would be a great comfort to displaced employees obviously, as well as good communication as this situation drags on. With the stress of not knowing whether we’re going to receive unemployment benefits, it’s been nice to get the occasional check-in from my boss.
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About the Author
Syd was a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. He’s at home like the rest of the world right now but finding time to play with the kids and create art.