Before Coronavirus, Walden driver Heather Thomas’ biggest concern was making sure each share in her full delivery truck got to the right destination. Now, decisions she once made without a second thought have become safety checkpoints and reminders to take heed. “I’m utilizing masks, gloves, purell, and wipes to keep things as clean and safe as possible,” she said.
Here at Walden, we owe a debt of gratitude to our drivers on the front line, who seem to face new COVID-19-related obstacles every day. In addition to personal safety protocols, Thomas and the Walden delivery team have to overcome many logistical challenges, as well. For instance, many members live in apartment complexes that no longer allow concierge drop off. In addition, as people buy more to compensate for uncertainty, Walden delivery drivers have bigger loads to transport. “The shares are particularly heavier,” Heather said. Since the Coronavirus pandemic started, many New England residents have sought out supermarket alternatives to reduce exposure to potentially risky public places. At Walden, we’ve not only seen an uptick in the size of shares but in the number of new member sign-ups as well. In normal times, this would be a cause for celebration. But now, people such as Walden warehouse manager Conor Leddy are too busy making sure shares make it out the door safely, accurately, and on time.
“At Walden, I am most grateful for the team that we have built up over the last year. We are a scrappy bunch, and most often describe ourselves as having grit, and the last month has proved that,” Conor said. “The first few weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak were felt within the four walls of the Walden warehouse. Now, I am excited to see how we are all adjusting to the new normal, getting our feet back under us and integrating new policies to continue to protect our health. I don’t know if I could do this without my fellow Waldeneers.”
Farmers are adjusting to the new normal as well. Walden supply chain director Kristen Kilfoyle interacts with our agricultural base daily. She reports that direct-to-consumer sales are picking up as larger customers, such as restaurants, have disappeared completely. Bigger share purchases and a growing member base have meant survival for some of our farmer partners, who’ve passed messages of thanks to Walden members through Kristen. “Walden’s increase in demand has made up for other whole markets bottoming out,” she said.
Walden’s close relationship with our farmer partners has been a central tenet to our business since we founded the company. From grass-fed ground beef to pasture-raised pork chops, all of Walden’s products are traceable back to the farm from which they came. Working with smaller farms that value ethical, environmentally friendly agricultural practices means your meat has been exposed to less risk than its industrial counterparts. Ensuring contactless delivery has also helped reduce risk, and has resulted in more people feeling safer about Walden shares.
“There was a couple in their 60s in New Jersey who became a new member in this crisis,” said Ceilidh MacNeil, member services representative. “We were able to offer them not only meat, but also other essentials like eggs, bread, bone broth, and butter when they are trying to keep themselves safe.”
Ceilidh says there has been a dramatic uptick in calls and emails to our member services department since the Coronavirus outbreak began. “We are getting a lot of questions related to the steps we’ve taken to keep our staff as well as our members safe. We’ve also gotten questions about our ability to continue operating,” she said. Some people are even reaching out to see how they can help other at-risk members get their share while minimizing exposure.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our members during this time,” she said. “While the current circumstances can certainly be scary and stressful, we’ve been humbled by how we’ve been able to help those who are quarantining to make one part of their life simpler.”
At Walden, our crews are working around the clock to serve our members during this crisis. We’re here for you, and we thank you for being here for us and the local agricultural community in New England and New York. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have. Thanks again, and together, we’ll get through this pandemic.