Much of the foodservice staff at St. Luke Health Services in Oswego, N.Y., doesn’t get off their morning shift until 2:15 p.m. With coronavirus restrictions affecting every community, “by the time these employees get out of work and to the grocery store, everything is gone,” says John Tombolillo, general manager of Sodexo’s foodservice operation at the senior living facility.
Several workers with young children asked Tombolillo if they could buy toilet paper and bread from the department’s supplies. After consulting his order system, the GM discovered that he could purchase these essentials in smaller packs, while other staples were already in good supply. “I realized that our residents’ gift shop, which is now closed, would be the perfect place for an employee store,” Tombolillo says.
With guidance from St. Luke’s administrator on how to move forward, he and his team put the idea to work. Other department heads helped with the ordering process, and soon the store was well-stocked. All items are sold at cost.
Photograph courtesy of St. Luke's Residential
Suggestions from employees determine what is most needed, says Tombolillo. “We have since expanded to include baby food and items donated by other team members, such as diapers, which are free,” he says.
Feedback has been “unbelievable. Employees tell me their anxiety has dropped knowing they can get items right here and no longer have to worry about running to the store after work,” says Tombolillo. “And other department heads have stopped me to thank the group for such a great idea.”