NAVAJO COUNTY, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The video above is from an earlier broadcast.
Bashas' is trying to reassure the Navajo Nation that grocery stores will again be regularly re-stocked with supplies, despite grappling with staff shortages and supply chain issues.
In a letter written this week to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Bashas' said its chain of grocery stores was battling against a "perfect storm" of problems that have resulted in shortages throughout Arizona.
"We are dealing with never-before-seen staffing shortages at our distribution center in Chandler, both from regular lack of workers and from workers calling in due to illness after the holiday season," the letter stated.
Bashas' told President Nez the company was "not running out of food" and are working "around the clock" to guarantee all their stores have food on the shelves.
Shortages at U.S. grocery stores have been becoming more acute in recent weeks.
New problems like the fast-spreading omicron variant and severe weather are piling on to the supply chain struggles and labor shortages that have plagued retailers since the coronavirus pandemic began.
U.S. groceries typically have 5% to 10% of their items out of stock at any given time. According to the Consumer Brands Association, the unavailability rate is hovering around 15%.
Since the Navajo Nation consists of many rural communities, some areas of the nation have few grocery stores and residents have to travel long distances to purchase food.
Most of the nation has been previously designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "food desert."
"We encourage folks to take what they need, to not overbuy, and to keep things available for their neighbors," Bashas' wrote in the letter.
Nez shared a copy of Bashas' letter on social media.
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