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Helen’s Convenience opens for migrant workers

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Helen’s Convenience Store is now open for business.

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The on-farm store in Langton is available to the EZ Grow Farms migrant workers. It was created to help the workers remain socially distant while still receiving the food and other items they need.

Helen Zamecnik, vice president and co-owner at EZ Grow, said she started to work on the store as soon as they knew they were able to have their offshore workers come to Canada.

Things that had to be considered were where they would be able to purchase that much food, what they needed to get, and where they would store it all. The food is stored in a pack barn on the farm, and everything that needs to be refrigerated is stored in Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved fridges and freezers.

“This all started before they even needed to be quarantined, but we knew they were not going to town,” said Zamecnik.

They are working with Gordon Food Services to buy some items in bulk, but Zamecnik is also shopping at the Tillsonburg Metro, Dollarama, and Real Canadian Superstore in Simcoe.

“I always introduce myself to the manager, say who I am, and what I’m doing,” Zamecnik said about her larger shopping trips. “I have had so much wonderful positivity back.”

Throughout the week she collects lists of foods and other items that the workers need and she makes sure to pick it up. Items range from different baked goods to cellphones.

“Our gentlemen are 100 per cent for this,” said Zamecnik. “They were told this is how we’re going to do it, you will not be able to go to town, but I will do anything and everything I can to make it a wonderful experience for them.”

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Anyone entering the country is required to be in self-isolation for 14 days.

Some of the offshore workers at EZ Farms have been in Canada long enough to go into the store and shop for themselves. The nine workers still in quarantine text a wishlist to Zamecnik and she will deliver the groceries to their door.

Five workers are allowed in the store at a time to allow everyone the space and the time they need to decide what they’re going to buy.

“We’re a very tightknit family operation here,” said Zamecnik. “They’re happy and they totally understand that safety is Number 1.”

She added that the workers are constantly keeping up to date with the news and they are fully aware of everything going on in the world revolving around COVID-19.

“They are doing their part as much as we are doing our part.”

EZ Grow Farms hires 75 offshore workers and 150 locals during their farming seasons.

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