Publix Figures

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, I’m a Publix man. I don’t shop at other grocery stores very often.

The main reason for this is because I’ve spent the majority of my life living within a mile or two from a Publix. I have a long history of visiting this local supermarket, even when I don’t need groceries. I just like the store.

It’s pleasant. People are cheerful. I like to walk around the aisles singing along with the overhead music, getting free samples from the lady at the free-sample kiosk who always smiles at me, warmly, and says in a motherly voice, “This is your last sample, sir, or I’m calling security.”

I have friends who work at Publix. Usually, I see my pal, Shawn, stocking shelves. He’s worked there for years. Shawn always waves. I always wave back. This is such a little, almost insignificant gesture, but you don’t get this kind of thing at big-box stores.

When I was a younger man, I played music with local bands. I was sort of a utility musician for hire. I drove long distances to play loud music in beer joints, taverns, roadhouses, saloons, frat parties, Methodist quilting clubs, etc.

So I was always clocking off work late at night. And I was always starving. Musicians spend their lives on the brink of starvation. There’s an old saying among musicians: “A musician without a wife or a girlfriend probably lives under a bridge.”

But getting back to Publix. Every night after work—and I mean EVERY night—I would stop by the store for a deli sandwich. Always the same thing. Roast beef on white. Extra mustard and mayo. Add pickles.

It was always the same lady behind the deli counter, waiting for me. She knew I was coming. She would have my sandwich wrapped and waiting. It would still be warm. I don’t know how she did it.

One night, she had even included a box of fried chicken. I asked, “What’s this?”

She said, “No charge, it’s the end of the night, we were gonna throw it out, I thought you might like it.”

So you can imagine how excited I was when my friend, Chad, told me the news about Publix. Chad grew up working on dairy farms in Northwest Florida. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, these kinds of farms have been feeling the pinch.

“People don’t always think about farmers,” Chad says. “But with all these school closings and restaurants closing, think about it, everyone quits buying food.”

The dairy farm where Chad works has had to discard shiploads of milk it couldn’t sell since the epidemic started.

It’s this way all over Florida, a state that’s almost neck and neck with California for having the highest grossing agricultural industry. So this isn’t just a little problem.

This kind of thing is happening everywhere. In Ohio, for example, dairy farmers are dumping metric tons of unsold whole milk into huge pits and covering the holes with bulldozers. In Wisconsin, old family farms are going under. In Idaho and Oregon, commercial farmers are losing their businesses.

Shay Myers, a third-generation Idaho onion farmer, just buried a million pounds of onions in the soil because his product was going to waste.

A million pounds.

Myers told reporters, “Lotta people say to me, ‘There’s still 320 million people in the United States, so we should still be eating the same amount of onions.’ When was the last time you made onion rings at home for dinner?”

In South Florida, things are getting dire. Farmers aren’t even bothering to harvest crops. They’re plowing through acres of healthy green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, cabbage, and God only knows what else. They can’t sell it, so they’re burying it.

“This is a disaster,” says Chad. “Farmers are losing millions every day.”

This is where Publix comes in. A few days ago, the supermarket chain announced that it is going to help farmers. And I mean big time. Publix’s plan is to purchase a Titanic-load of produce and milk directly from local farmers to help them out.

The best part is, Publix is not going to sell this surplus food in stores, they’re donating it to Feed America foodbanks where it will be given away.

In case you’re wondering how much produce this actually is, well, let’s just say we’re not talking small potatoes (get it?).

Within the first week of Publix’s spending spree, the supermarket chain plans on buying 150,000 pounds of fresh produce, and 43,500 pounds of milk. And that’s just the first seven days.

To give you an idea of how much produce and dairy this adds up to be, imagine that you are a tomato. Got it? Good. Now imagine that everyone in the state of Georgia is a gallon of 2% milk. Good. Now pretend that all the people in your senior graduating class are giant misshapen eggplants with moldy black spots. Perfect.

I hope you’re starting to get the picture now because I am completely lost.

I asked another farmer friend what Publix’s initiative would mean for farmers. He said, “This is huge, I think for some farmers, it might mean that they can pay their bills.”

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’m not a reporter. And I have no affiliation with Publix supermarkets. I have no affiliation with anyone. In fact, if you were to meet me in real life, you’d laugh because I’m a big, goofy guy with a severe overbite.

But I do shop at Publix. And right now, I feel pretty good saying that.

I could sure go for a deli sandwich about now.

52 comments

  1. Susan - April 26, 2020 9:25 am

    And their employees have been heros to many as they have worked through this pandemic.

    Reply
  2. Lita - April 26, 2020 9:50 am

    Awesome.

    Reply
  3. Cathi Russell - April 26, 2020 10:15 am

    God bless Publix! They’re delivering groceries to me this morning, lots of milk, yogurt, etc. It’s not the same thing but I’m doing my very small part to help farmers too! Thanks Sean for highlighting this amazing thing. One thing the pandemic has done is change people’s minds enough to realize how truly dependent we all are on each other & let’s pray the feeling lasts a looooong time.

    Reply
  4. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - April 26, 2020 10:42 am

    I don’t know how long Publix will be able to help farmers in this way. That has to be very expensive. But even if they only did it once, that is wonderful. Good on ’em!

    Reply
  5. Patty - April 26, 2020 11:56 am

    Publix employees are the cream of the crop! I always have a great experience when shopping in Publix. A few months ago we were going to TX to visit family. All they wanted from Florida is Publix breakfast bread. They love it and can’t get it anywhere else. We stopped at Publix in Freeport, FL, not too far from home, early in the morning and they didn’t have any made. When I mentioned to the girl in the bakery we were headed to TX and that’s all my family asked for, she offered to let us have some frozen breakfast bread to take with us, and the container to bake them in, and wrote down the baking directions. She gave us all of this personal attention while busy getting ready for the day baking bread, etc. now that’s above and beyond service! “Where shopping is a pleasure”.

    Reply
  6. Brenda - April 26, 2020 12:02 pm

    ♥️ Publix

    Reply
  7. Lee - April 26, 2020 12:22 pm

    I love this heartwarming article is these troubled times. You warmed heart. Thank you. Now I can watch my preacher’s sermon on my phone when a smile on my face. Thank you again and a great Sunday!!!

    Reply
  8. Dale Ann - April 26, 2020 12:39 pm

    I’ve always loved Publix, but love them even more now!

    Reply
  9. Jo Ann - April 26, 2020 12:45 pm

    Good for Publix! We don’t have that chain where we live, but why couldn’t others do the same thing? Take their example & run with it. We need our farmers & dairy people. They could sure use the help & this helps the hungry, also. Win/win. Thanks Sean.

    Reply
  10. Julie - April 26, 2020 12:58 pm

    If I can find a Publix nearby, I will be a customer for life!

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - April 26, 2020 12:59 pm

    I love Publix too. And when I read the news the other day that they were doing this massively wonderful thing for farmers, I was absolutely proud to say that. I’m just wondering why other big name stores aren’t doing the same?

    Reply
  12. Jenny Liston - April 26, 2020 1:17 pm

    Publix is the best!! Love our local Publix in Leesburg, Georgia and appreciate the corporation for stepping up and helping out our farmers across the country!!

    Reply
  13. Jan - April 26, 2020 1:23 pm

    Great story, great idea! Hope others get on that bandwagon … there are many hungry and needy people!

    Reply
  14. K. T. McIntire - April 26, 2020 1:23 pm

    I pray that all the supermarket chains in the US will get on this bandwagon. It’s heartbreaking for us to see the news reports of crops being plowed under. You can imagine how gut wrenching it is for the farmers. Farmers feed the world. We’ve got to help them find a way to continue to do so.

    Reply
  15. Amy - April 26, 2020 1:24 pm

    This USA brilliant move by Publix! I wish there was a direct buy program where citizens could buy directly from the farmers. I (and everyone I know) am buying groceries like they’re going out of style. My 15 year old son uses enough milk to flood our house! The idea of all those fresh veggies and milk going to waste breaks my heart!

    Reply
  16. shellypain - April 26, 2020 1:26 pm

    What a sweet deal. Seems that at least two of the privately held grocery chains are really stepping up. In Texas we love the H-E-B. For a lot of the same reasons. Yeah Publix!

    Reply
  17. Suki Janisch - April 26, 2020 1:28 pm

    Fantastic “article”. Growing up in Lakeland means you are a Publix girl through and through. George Jenkins said “Where shopping is a Pleasure” and those words echo every time you walk in a Publix anywhere in the country.
    Publix and Pride go hand in hand.
    Proud to be a “Publix Girl”

    Reply
  18. BJean - April 26, 2020 1:49 pm

    Publix has always been part of my family. Brother (76) bagged there as a teen, son (46) bagged there in high school, and he has 6 sons in line if Publix would only come to our area in southwest Georgia! I agree, it’s just a nice place to visit!

    Reply
  19. George Leuenberger - April 26, 2020 1:50 pm

    I have witnessed Publix grow from 150 stores in 1969 when they first entered the Florida Panhandle. Today the number is 1200 and the best part, it is an employee owned company. The only way you can obtain stock is to work there. Now you know why you like shopping there, you are being served by an “owner”.

    Reply
  20. Ol' Retired Geezer - April 26, 2020 1:51 pm

    Another good thing about Publix: They are EMPLOYEE OWNED!

    Reply
  21. cronkitesue - April 26, 2020 2:28 pm

    I have been volunteering at a food pantry for years. Publix, and lots of other stores, local and state-wide donate canned and other goods that are nearing the “use before” date. Second Harvest collects produce that is quickly snapped up by those with incomes under the poverty level. That food, as well as that Publix buys to help the farmers, is sorely needed. We need our middle class back, where people could actually afford to buy what they need.

    Reply
  22. Tom Zaccardi - April 26, 2020 2:36 pm

    Good story Sean and long live Publix

    Reply
  23. Debbie - April 26, 2020 2:37 pm

    I’m glad you shared this, Sean. My husband and I are huge Publix fans, always will be. But the things they’re doing now just make us love them even more!

    Reply
  24. Bobbie E - April 26, 2020 2:53 pm

    I used to go to Publix, now seems like eons ago, and just browse thru the aisles…like you said, just enjoying being there. I have a neighbor, 65, who started working there part time before the pandemic ( I don’t like some of these now too familiar words we’re hearing all the time), now she’s almost full time. Works extended hours when some don’t show up. I’m so proud of her. I asked her last week if she would pick up some coffee pods for me …now these ARE a necessity! I had the money ready when she stopped by the next day. She refused to let me pay her. I loved what she said, “I am blessed to do this…don’t steal my blessing.”
    I’m learning so much during my days of quarantine. Like getting to know my neighbors. True character always comes thru during difficult times.
    Can’t wait till I can go and just spend time at Publix! God bless all those everywhere who are so dedicated, who keep on keeping on!
    Thank you Sean. ❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Reply
  25. Ann - April 26, 2020 3:14 pm

    I agree… everything and everyone at Publix is superb

    Reply
  26. Barbara Pope - April 26, 2020 3:59 pm

    A big thank you to Publix for sharing in a time of need!

    Reply
  27. Linda Moon - April 26, 2020 4:13 pm

    I am a Publix Figure. I didn’t realize that there’s a disaster with farmers and the food supply. I’ve met you, and I laugh a lot, but not because of your self-deprecating description. I laugh and smile and sometimes even cry because of your affiliations with LIFE that you share with us. I’ll be making my grocery list for Publix in just a few minutes. Small potatoes (yes…got it!) will be on the list, and I’ll feel especially good about shopping there today thanks to you!

    Reply
  28. Dianne - April 26, 2020 4:31 pm

    Another “This is America” story. Americans have always gone the extra mile when needed. So proud of Publix (my favorite grocery store, too). Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  29. Patricia Gibson - April 26, 2020 4:36 pm

    Praise God and blessings for Publix! I shop there but will do it more often❤️ Thanks for sharing Sean

    Reply
  30. Linda - April 26, 2020 4:57 pm

    Good for Publix !
    I vacation in your area and I got sick once and needed an antibiotic.
    I went to Publix for my prescription and when I went to pay for it they said it was free. It’s a common antibiotic , made cheaply and they passed it along to customers….

    Reply
  31. ER Mosely - April 26, 2020 5:19 pm

    Publix is providing a wonderful service to both farmers and the public. My hat’s off to Publix.

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  32. George Speers - April 26, 2020 5:25 pm

    When I was a kid mom shopped at all the big stores, PUBLIX, food fair,Grand Union,Winn Dixie and A&P. With a big family,she had to stretch the $ 20 a week food budget by getting the loss leader item with a$5 order.detergent ,sugar ,coffee,etc. For 39 cents.She knew who the best store was. The one she stayed with after the kids grew up was Publix.Good thing because the rest went under,except WD.they are hurting.So the best store is better than ever.

    Reply
  33. JUDY M OBAR - April 26, 2020 6:09 pm

    I am not aware of any Publix stores in Texas where I live, but I did shop Publix often during the last years my Mom was on this earth. Great store with great people and products. Thank you, Sean, for sharing the news of their generosity.

    Reply
  34. Jeannie Schweck - April 26, 2020 6:10 pm

    I,too, am a die hard Publix customer. In fact my one fear when we moved from Atlanta to Opelika was that I would be leaving my Publix “friends” I had there . I do not work at Publix but I love it. I have been so proud of how they have addressed the distancing and safety keeping of the employees and the customers. What they are doing for the community and the farmers with the food supply is amazing. THANK YOU PUBLIX!!!!

    Reply
  35. Lori Klein - April 26, 2020 7:02 pm

    I saw you at the Santa Rosa Publix on 98 a couple of summers ago. I didn’t say anything because I thought maybe you were getting to the point where people interrupted your day a lot. You looked pretty happy, so I figured you might not need to hear from a landlocked Arkansans who used to be a north Florida person tell you how homesick your writings make me, and how much I enjoy your work. So I let you walk out in peace.

    But just for the record, you make me homesick all the time. And I’d just about sell my little sister to have a Publix up here. (She’s fine. She lives in Mary Esther. She has a Publix.) If things are safer by August, I’ll be down for my mom’s 80th birthday. (She lives in Shalimar. She has a Publix too.)

    Fair warning: If I see you at the Publix this time, I’m gonna stop you. And tell you how homesick you make me. And maybe even hug your neck.

    Thanks Sean. I really do appreciate what you do.

    Reply
  36. Sandi. - April 26, 2020 7:37 pm

    One of the numerous reasons I love shopping at Publix is because if you cannot find something which you rarely buy, such as diced pimentoes, all you need to do is ask a Publix employee on one of the aisles, and they stop what they’re doing (usually stocking shelves), and literally walk you directly to the item and point it out on the shelf. What other grocery stores do this? Did you know that if you talk to the manager on duty and compliment an employee by name (They all wear name tags.), that employee is given a coupon for a free lunch at a local sandwich shop? So please make a point to do this, even if it means calling the store later at the store’s phone number on your receipt. Another thing: Publix brand of milk stays fresh longer than most other brands, and Publix brand of applesauce is delicious!

    Reply
  37. Barbara Barnes - April 26, 2020 8:39 pm

    Great story.

    Reply
  38. Richard Maloy - April 26, 2020 8:42 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if even a simple majority of businesses had that level of integrity!

    Reply
  39. Ann Tyree - April 26, 2020 10:20 pm

    I saw this and cheered. I am a retired educator who is retired who shops at Publix.

    Reply
  40. Linda Moon - April 26, 2020 10:25 pm

    P.S. The trip to Publix earlier today was very successful. A good dinner here at home will be ready when the small potatoes in the crockpot are done. Publix was out of only one item that I needed but it was easily replaced by another one, so all is good! And I feel good about telling y’all about it!

    Reply
  41. Ala Red Clay Girl - April 27, 2020 12:57 am

    A group at my church cooks a meal for home-bound people once a week. Every week Publix donates bakery goods to this cause. Shopping at Publix is always a good experience. The employees are helpful and very nice. After reading this, I feel even better about shopping there.

    Reply
  42. Gwen@ Monroe - April 27, 2020 1:01 am

    WOW! That’s awesome! Thank you Publix! There’s a Publix about an hour away from us but I think it would be worth the trip to give our business to these good people. Thank you Shawn for sharing this. It brighten my day.

    Reply
  43. MermaidGrammy - April 27, 2020 2:18 am

    I would rather shop at Publix than anywhere. The stores are clean. Associates pleasantly friendly and helpful. They’ll do anything to help you find a deal. The company has scored very high every year for years as one of the best places in America to work

    This food-farmer catastrophe is a microscopic picture of food problems all over the world. People going hungry – even starving in America while farmers are throwing food away. Our government should have figured out a way for that food to go to people. Even if farmers didn’t get paid – or paid very little – the food wouldn’t go to waste. I think it is abominable

    You, however, are not. You are a light in our darkness. A smile through our anger and sorrow. We love you and the hope you give us

    Reply
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  45. Marylou Preston - April 27, 2020 1:11 pm

    Bravo to Publix for the buy-up of perishables for food banks during the COVID pandemic . We grew up with Publix … George Jenkins (Founder) was cutting meat in our Publix next to my elementary school in Lakeland FL (home of Publix). My husband was a bagger as a teenager at Publix, and many of our high school classmates went career with Publix Markets. We’ve shopped all over the US visiting family & friends and no grocery chain anywhere compares. Now in our 80s, our Publix pharmacy knows us by name, as well as the front desk and cashiers. “Where shopping is a pleasure” is definitely an understatement!

    Reply
  46. Jean Anderson - April 27, 2020 1:43 pm

    I’m from cape Coral Florida and I love my Publix in cape Coral they are so nice people

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  47. shannan - April 27, 2020 2:14 pm

    i’m glad they stepped up! let’s hope they will actually carry more local products from our local farms in their stores after this storm passes! https://www.facebook.com/LongScottFarms/photos/a.204987179519255/4025619380789330/?type=3&theater

    Reply
  48. Carol Rothwell - April 27, 2020 2:50 pm

    Thank you Publix !
    I’m a shut in most of the time normally and I order all my groceries to be delivered from Publix for 10.00 a month. No matter how many times
    I order
    Each month
    What a Blessing for me 🙏
    Love ya!

    Reply
  49. Patricia - April 27, 2020 5:03 pm

    Thank you for writing, Sean!! Maybe when “this” is all over, the world will be a better place. It’s good to see families walking and riding their bikes on a Sunday rather than shopping at a mall somewhere.

    Reply
  50. Charlie Leuenberger - April 28, 2020 11:44 am

    Your article is spot on. I, along with my brother Tommy own a small Piggly Wiggly in rural Graceville, FL. We were turned on to your blog by our dad, George Leuenberger, one of your subscribers, who taught us everything we know about the grocery business. We see and hear stories about the things you talk about in your article everyday. I had a small produce peddler come in a couple of weeks ago, one of those guys who makes money by driving to south florida, buying fresh produce and driving it back up to sell for a profit to independent retailers. He said they were leaving beautiful squash on the vine, and just picking the best of the best squash to sell for some profit. I’ve heard the stories of the milk problem too. Its real. We have become “essential workers” since March, and with restaurants and schools closed, it sure has turned alot of folks to the old fashioned grocery store. People cooking again, buying big cartloads of groceries again. Its almost like time has been turned back. We know its probably a short lived situation, but we make the best of it, and are thankful for being able to keep the bellies full of all the local people in our small area. In the grocery business, anyone worth their salt, knows the greatest conventional grocery retailer is Publix by far. They are the Patriots of the supermarket business. And I’m not talking about selling groceries, I’m talking about the fact that Publix is more well known for their charitable contributions, and most importantly the way they treat their employees. Go Publix, great company!

    Reply
  51. Meg Glenn - April 28, 2020 12:03 pm

    When we moved to Tennessee, one of my favorite things about our new home was my proximity to Publix. Well done, Publix! And thank you for sharing this story!

    Reply
  52. Ron - April 30, 2020 9:00 pm

    I think it is also important to know that food banks are running low on food, if you are able, and not out of work, maybe buy an extra bag the next time you shop, and drop it off at your local food bank or church..it is the right ting to do. God bless.

    Reply

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