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Kansas City companies trying to adapt, give back despite COVID-19

Kansas City businesses trying to give back
Kansas City businesses trying to give back
Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:57:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It is anything but "business as usual" for many Kansas City companies during the coronavirus pandemic, but many are working to adapt and give back during these tense times.

Images of empty store shelves have flooded social media feeds. At Farm To Market Bread, employees have felt that, too.

“We sold out over the weekend, and I think we finally got an idea of how much we needed to be sending,” said John Friend, vice president at Farm To Market Bread, about the increase in demand the business has seen at the grocery stores it supplies.

The bread slicer is working constantly to keep up and refill grocery store shelves. On a typical day last week, Friend said they would bake 600 loaves of sourdough bread, but now they will bake 1,500.

Friend said buns used to be Farm To Market Bread's No.1 seller because of restaurant demand, but that quickly changed this week. Friend said food service customers were 60% of their business, but that number also has dropped significantly.

Friend said the company donated the bread orders restaurants couldn’t use this week to charities such as Operation Breakthrough and to The Rieger's new community kitchen initiative.

At Succotash restaurant, staff are selling to-go meals, brunch kits and soon a few pantry staples to try to keep their doors open now that customers can’t dine in. They're also waiving delivery fees to the hospitals a few blocks away and hoping to adjust the restaurant's hours to better serve the health care workers they see as heroes.

“We want to take care of people that are taking care of everybody right now,” manager Brittney Pearce said.

J. Rieger & Co. is stepping up during the pandemic to start making hand sanitizer, and dozens lined up Thursday to buy some. The distillery quickly sold out of the first batch of hundreds of bottles but says it will work around the clock to make more. The distillery is only asking people to pay what they can for hand sanitizer.

“We don’t want to make people have to pay if they can’t because everybody needs it,” Andy Rieger said. “We’re getting people saying, ‘I don’t need any’ or ‘I only want a little bit but can I give you an extra $100, $200, $300 and can you give it to someone that isn’t able to pay?'”

You can find the latest updates on the hand sanitizer supply on J Rieger & Co.'s social media channels. The distillery is also selling cocktails and food to-go right now.