During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arizona National Guard has been called upon to help grocery stores restock empty shelves.
An initial meeting took place on Saturday morning with the Arizona National Guard and grocery executives to review logistics on how best to help stores restock. The meeting was one of the first steps the National Guard is taking, and plans are in the works for them to be mobilized to certain locations by mid-week.
“We bring specific capabilities to the table to help solve the problems,” said US Army Brig. Gen. John Hoefert, Arizona National Guard Joint Commander. “Our guardsmen are going to be on the back loading docks behind the stores, you might see them out on the freeways.”
Customers will most likely will not see Guardsmen inside the supermarkets as they will be working in the dead of night and early morning hours helping the grocery stores.
Activating the National Guard is an essential step to assist grocery stores and food banks, while the facilities deal with heightened demand.
The Arizona National Guard will have 700 citizen-soldiers and airmen helping in different phases. “It’s important that the people of Arizona know that we are here for them, we are from their communities, we are members of these communities. We’re neighbors, brothers, sisters, cousins, teachers. We just put on a different uniform to go out and conduct these critical missions,” said Major Aaron Thacker.
Typically, grocers require two trucks full of items to restock. Currently, due to the increase in panicked runs on shops, it takes about 12 trucks to restock a single grocery store.
“The guard doesn’t want to be out here long term. We just want to go ahead and feed the immediate gap,” said Brig. Gen. Hoefert.