Early on in the pandemic, Dan’s Wellness Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy in Stafford County, provided daily hot meals to the community.
Owner Dan Singh said he would watch people who live in the apartments behind the pharmacy on Garrisonville Road walk over and pick up four or five bags to take home to their families for dinner.
“It was obvious people were having a tough time,” he said.
Ten months later, and with the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, Singh hopes the pandemic is drawing to a close, but he knows people are still struggling.
So at the beginning of December, he began leaving out bags of grocery staples for people to take home.
Each bag contains about $10 worth of food—cereal, oatmeal, pasta and sauce and canned vegetables and fruits—to provide breakfast and dinner to a family for several days.
“My daughter [Serena, 17] was the one who kind of came up with the idea of doing something like this,” Singh said. “We all talked about it and we wanted to do something that was easy and something that people could easily grab and not feel bad about doing it.”
The filled bags are set up outside the pharmacy so people can drive by and pick one up without having to come inside.
“There has been a great response,” Singh said. “We have given out over 100 bags of food since we started [Dec. 7].”
The Singh family—Dan, wife Parminder and daughters Serena and Priya, 18—shop for groceries to fill the bags about every three days.
Pharmacy staff and customers have also helped out with donations of money and food, Singh said.
The pharmacy’s storage room has turned into a temporary food pantry. Singh and his staff keep an eye on the bags outside and replenish them as supplies get low.
On a busy day, they give out 20 bags of groceries, or about $200 worth of food.
“As we get closer to the holidays, I expect we’ll give out more than that,” Singh said.
He said he plans to continue offering the groceries through Christmas and possibly through the end of the month.
Singh opened his pharmacy in 2007 after working at local chain pharmacies.
In 2019, the pharmacy was accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board for its services in providing customized prescription medications. It first achieved this accreditation in 2013, when it was one of only three accredited compounding pharmacies in Virginia.
Singh said over-the-counter sales at his pharmacy have dropped during the pandemic.
“There are less infections going around, less coughs and colds and bronchitis,” he said. “So we’re seeing less of those antibiotic-type prescriptions.”
But his overall prescription business has remained steady and he feels grateful to still be in a position to give back.
“We’re helping the community,” he said.
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