Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is being asked to prioritize food deliveries to people with disabilities during the coronavirus lockdowns that have made it harder for them to stock their pantries.
The American Network of Community Options and Resources has told Bezos via letter that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are among the Americans “left most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic” because they often require other people, including so-called service providers, to help them shop for food.
The group known as ANCOR represents nonprofits serving people with conditions such as Down syndrome and autism. Those organizations have been scrambling to get groceries into the homes where they provide crucial services while following social-distancing protocol required to keep the virus in check, ANCOR says.
Prioritizing food deliveries to those service providers “would make a world of difference for the people …. who don’t have direct support professionals who can take them shopping, and who may lack access to the resources needed to navigate the community on their own,” ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill wrote in a March 20 letter to Bezos.
“Amazon is in that position to ensure that help is on the way so that you don’t have to suddenly put four people in the direct support professional’s car and drive to the grocery store,” Merrill told The Post. “That’s not what we need to be doing right now to flatten the curve of this pandemic.”
ANCOR’s letter comes as Amazon has vowed to boost capacity for its grocery delivery service during the crisis, which has led to major delivery delays and a shortage of certain essentials like sanitizing wipes and toilet paper. The Seattle-based company recently said it would hire 100,000 workers in response to the pandemic, some of whom will go Amazon Fresh fulfillment centers.
Amazon said it is talking with ANCOR about ways to help vulnerable people during the pandemic. The company has already funded the delivery of over 70,000 meals to more than 2,700 seniors and medically at-risk people in the Seattle area by partnering with a local caterer, an Amazon spokesperson said.
“We continue to be focused on providing an essential service to as many customers as possible, including those who are most vulnerable,” the Amazon spokesperson said. “We are working hard to identify ways to deliver groceries to more customers, like adding more delivery windows throughout the day.”