Stew Leonard's delivers a truckload of thanks

Published on Thursday, 23 April 2020 20:07
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEWINGTON – Sen. Richard Blumenthal stopped by Stew Leonard’s Monday to thank frontline grocery workers and endorse Senate Democrats’ Heroes Fund proposal.

The senator was joined by Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of the grocery chain, and Daniel Gomez, interim CEO of the Connecticut Food Bank.

Gomez accepted a tractor-trailer truckload of non-perishable food from Stew Leonard’s, facilitated by the 4-CT Statewide COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“We’re honored to have Senator Blumenthal here to honor people on the front lines working hard every day to put food on the tables of Connecticut residents,” Leonard Jr. told the media, standing at a podium set up for the press conference in the Newington store’s parking lot.

Blumenthal took the opportunity to support the Heroes Fund, a proposal unveiled on April 7 aimed to “retain, recruit and reward” workers in healthcare, the service industry and emergency response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible workers would receive $5,000 to $25,000 premiums in hazard pay, or the equivalent of $13 per hour raises on top of their regular wages through Dec. 31, 2020.

The program would also provide new recruits to these industries a $15,000 stipend for signing on to provide essential service during the pandemic.

“We are living in a time of tremendous adversity, anxiety and anguish, but it’s also a time to recognize those that are keeping us safe and healthy, the front-line heroes,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a time to celebrate these folks, like those at Stew Leonard’s stores, who are exposing themselves to the risk of infection every day so people can buy essential food.”

Gomez thanked the store for its generous donation, which will go to unprivileged residents in six Connecticut counties.

“That trailer full of food translates to over 60,000 meals,” Gomez pointed out.

“We are living through a period of unprecedented hardship and heartbreak,” Blumenthal added. “That’s why this donation is so important.”

Stew Leonard’s workers held signs showcasing some of the company’s new initiatives being implemented during this health crisis, including an express checkout lane designated for emergency responders and health professionals.

“Anyone out there who is a first responder, you can’t cut in line at Disney but you can here,” Leonard said.

Front end manager Jennifer Polaski was “completely shocked” to learn of the pay raise potentially coming to she and her colleagues through the Heroes Fund, if the proposal moves forward.

“I’m totally appreciative and grateful,” she said. “It’s a little stressful working right now but helping people get food on their tables – I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at

Posted in Newington Town Crier, Newington News on Thursday, 23 April 2020 20:07. Updated: Thursday, 23 April 2020 20:10.