CHEER stocks up on groceries to aid members during crisis

CHEER staffers Katie Leister, back, and Carolyn O’Neal fill grocery orders in CHEER’s Essential Grocery Shopping Program. The initiative is designed to ensure confined CHEER members and clients have basic food and household items during the COVID-19 emergency.

GEORGETOWN — Plush maroon carpet is gone at the banquet/conference facility in CHEER’s Warren & Charles Allen Community Center, replaced by shiny new white and blue vinyl flooring.

No mass-gathering events are currently booked, nor will they be in the foreseeable future.

Space that served as the staging venue for CHEER events and fundraising rentals through CHEER’s hospitality arm has transitioned into a warehouse.

Until further notice, it is home base for bulk storage and order processing in CHEER’s Essential Grocery Shopping Program, designed to ensure that CHEER members and clients confined to their homes during the COVID-19 crisis have basic food staples as well as household and personal hygiene items.

“Even pet food,” says CHEER spokeswoman Carolyn O’Neal.

The program, launched shortly after the coronavirus facilitated closure of CHEER’s centers and facilities, is available to CHEER customers and members at seven activity centers — Georgetown, Greenwood, Lewes, Long Neck, Milton, Ocean View and Roxana — and nutrition sites CHEER serves in Bridgeville and Laurel.

“It is picking up. It is slowly building. We’re prepared now, which is good,” said Katie Leister, whose previous role at CHEER was hospitality director.

“We are delivering groceries to people on a daily basis,” said CHEER CEO Ken Bock.

Ms. Leister now works in concert with Nancy Elliott, coordinator for Essential Grocery Shopping Program. “My job ceased — events coordinator — and I am a social worker by trade, so it was kind of nice …”

In the edible bulk stock are assorted canned goods, cereal and a selection of other shelf-stable products, plus milk, cheese and a small assortment of meats — hamburger and hot dogs.

The shopping list also offers hygiene/household items, such as mouthwash, denture cleanser, detergent and of course, toilet paper.
There are program parameters:

• Customer orders must be placed at least two business days and not more than five business days before scheduled delivery;

• Groceries must be paid for in full at the time of delivery;

• Customers must be at their residence to receive delivery;

Delivery days are staggered based on service areas;

• Georgetown, Tuesday and Wednesday;

• Greenwood, Monday and Tuesday;

• Lewes, Thursday and Friday;

• Long Neck, Wednesday and Friday;

• Milton, Tuesday and Thursday;

• Ocean View, Monday and Thursday;

• Roxana, Monday and Wednesday;

• Bridgeville, Wednesday and Friday;

• Laurel, Tuesday and Thursday.

Participation for CHEER customers is just a phone call or email away by contacting Nancy Elliott at 302-515-3040 or nelliottgrocery@cheerde.com.

To every extent possible, items will be delivered in plastic bags to the door of the residence. Generally, CHEER delivery personnel are not permitted to enter the customer’s home. However, exceptions will be made for those who are not able to receive their delivery outside the door.

Customers pay the exact amount to cover CHEER’s purchase cost for items. Deliveries are made by CHEER staff.

Supported in part by funding through the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, the program is an extension of the CHEERmobile Mini Market program.

The program’s bulk inventory was bolstered by a supplemental delivery of food through FEMA. That, coupled with items purchased by CHEER, provides enough stock for at least a full year.

On a smaller scale, Harrington Senior Center offers a grocery shopping service and pantry service.

“We will go shopping for any member who is afraid to go to the grocery store on their own and deliver that to them. They then reimburse us,” said Karen Crouse, Harrington Senior Center executive director.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 1 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.