'It’s a relief': Food bank, grocery store workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

Hundreds of essential workers at St. Mary's Food Bank and Bashas' who’ve been on the front lines since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic are getting the opportunity to be vaccinated on Monday.

"They continue to come to work, put their personal safety aside and came and took care of those people in need," said Tom Kurtis, President and CEO of St. Mary's Food Bank.

More than 300 employees and volunteers of St. Marys Food Bank are getting the opportunity to be vaccinated, many eager, saying for the first time in a long time, they're feeling some relief.

"Coming into work every day this year, it is a little nerve-wracking and we’ve been doing everything we can to mitigate any sort of risk to get exposure to our staff or anyone coming here. Whether it be volunteers or things like that, so overall it’s a relief now that we have this," said Kip Ware, senior manager of food resources at the food bank.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the work at the food bank hasn't stopped. In fact, it's increased.

RELATED: St. Mary's Food Bank makes food boxes for seniors during pandemic

"Prior to the pandemic, we had no months where we shipped more than 10 million pounds of food. Since the pandemic, every month we average well over 10 million pounds. So the need has been great," Kurtis said.

At Bashas', it’s quite a similar story. All of the company's essential workers worked tirelessly to make sure shelves were stocked and people were taken care of.

"I’m excited. It really is a time to feel a little bit lighter than we have. It has been absolutely, the words 'challenging,' 'pivot,' all of these things that people have been saying for the last year, it was absolutely one of the most challenging times. Not only as a company but a member family," said Ashley Shick, Director of Communications at Bashas'.

St. Mary's also opened their vaccination site up for those who work closely with the organization from other food banks. Bashas' gave out about 200 vaccines last week and on Monday they will administer about 300 more.

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