Answering your Questions About COVID-19 and the Co-op
Many of you are rightly concerned about the Novel Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, and have asked how the virus is affecting the Co-op. We’re committed to doing the best we can to take care of our customers and our staff, while still keeping our shelves stocked with essentials.
We have adjusted our store hours to 9am – 7pm, in order to allow our staff extra time to clean the store, unload deliveries, and re-stock. This will also provide some much needed relief to our staff, who are working incredibly hard to keep everything running smoothly.
We are actively monitoring the situation and following the advice from the CDC, as well as state and federal officials. We have many procedures already in place to help protect the safety of our employees, members, and shoppers—procedures we rely on to reduce the spread of foodborne illness and seasonal colds and flu every year.
We will regularly update this page as the situation progresses, so please check back for updates.
Keepin’ It Clean
We are making extra efforts to keep the store clean and sanitized, particularly in high-contact and high-traffic areas.
Our janitorial service cleans the store every night, and sanitizes high-contact areas including doors and handles. light switches, countertops, registers, restrooms, and more. This gives us a head start, so that when we open at 9am the store is as clean as possible.
Our staff then continues to clean throughout the day. Every two hours we announce a cleaning blitz and each department mobilizes to once again clean those high contact areas.
For health and safety reasons, we have closed dine-in seating in the co-op cafe. The sinks are still available for handwashing as needed.
Our shopping baskets are sanitized each morning. We have sanitizing wipe stations in our entry and exit areas if you’d like to clean your shopping carts and baskets before use.
Please do not bring your reusable shopping bags to the store. This is a temporary order from the State of NH. We have paper bags as well as recycled grocery boxes at the registers for your use.
Our credit card pin-pads are wiped down frequently. Please use the stylus to enter your information, since that is easy to clean between uses. We encourage customers to pay with debit or credit cards if possible, since it vastly reduces the amount of cash we have to handle.
When you visit the store you will see lots of new reminders to help everyone stay a safe 6-foot distance apart – please keep away from other shoppers as well as our staff while they work, for your own safety as well as ours.
At the registers, we’ve installed plexiglass barriers to protect you as well as our cashiers. There are also marks on the floor so that you know where to stand while you wait in line, and stay a safe distance apart.
Here are some grocery shopping tips to keep everyone safe & healthy:
- Please stay 6 feet away from other people while you shop.
- Make a shopping list before you come, and keep your visit quick and purposeful.
- Only touch items you intend to buy.
- Only buy what you need, and leave some for your neighbors.
- If possible, pay with a debit or credit card, which is far less germy than cash.
Our employees follow a strict set of standard operating procedures when handling products. No employee goes near the Co-op’s prepared foods or other products without extensive training on how to handle them properly and safely.
For the time being we are discontinuing our self-serve hot food stations, including soups, pizza, and self-serve coffee. Pre-packaged grab & go options are still available. All of our fresh-baked items are now packaged.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, it’s not clear if the virus can spread through food. Even if so, it would be highly unlikely. Regardless, health officials cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission from infected food handlers – which is why we ask our staff to stay home when they are sick.
Because of the increased risk of exposure that comes as a result of working in a grocery store, all of our staff are receiving a hazard pay increase.
Out of care for our community, our policy has always been for staff to remain at home when they are unwell. All of our employees accumulate paid time off to cover sick time.
We are working on ways to offer extended PTO for those employees who are self-isolating due to illness or immune vulnerabilities, as well as those who need to stay home to look after their children. We are also looking into emerging options provided by the state and the federal government to support our employees who cannot work.
Events and Sampling
Out of an abundance of caution, we are discontinuing our all food demos & sampling at this time. We are also suspending all community info tabling events.
We’ve also made the hard choice to postpone our in-store classes and workshops for March and April, including Cooking With Chad.
In order to promote healthy social distancing practices, we are looking into ways to move our monthly Board Meetings online. We will be continuing with our annual Board Election in April & May, since voting can be done online as well.
We are also temporarily suspending Member Appreciation Days & Senior Discount Days. We want to emphasize that we still love and appreciate our Members, but we need to be able to maintain stock levels and pace our staff labor for the long run.
You may have heard stories about grocery stores running out of food and household needs as consumers stock up on the essentials. One of our strengths is that we source from multiple suppliers and don’t pull from a central warehouse.
We are working diligently with our suppliers to keep essentials and pantry staples in stock, but please bear with us as some items may become out of stock or unavailable.
Work with Us
Finally, we ask all of our members, shoppers, and employees to partner with us in this. No matter how many safety protocols we may have in place, we can’t control shoppers who might come to the store sick or handle packages with germs on their hands. Social distancing is key – please stay 6 feet away from other shoppers and store employees.
WHO has great advice on how to be responsible in order to protect yourself—and by extension your community—from the virus.
If possible, shop solo, and only if you really need supplies. Again, we love seeing you all, and we’ll be here when brighter times are back for the usual smiles and chit-chat we all love in our co-op community. But for now we’d like to try to reduce the number of people in the store if possible, for the health and safety of everyone.
If you are older or in need of assistance with your grocery shopping, please give us a call. At this time we are unable to offer delivery or special shopping hours due to logistics and safety concerns. We do offer a Curbside Pickup service for seniors, people who are highly vulnerable to COVID 19, or people who are sick and staying isolated.
More thoughts or questions? Reach out anytime. For general questions please call the store at (603) 444-2800 or email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a community organization or you would like to find a way to volunteer, please contact our Community Outreach Coordinator, Becky Colpitts, at email@example.com, or call (603) 444-2800 x 241 and leave a message.
Q: Is the Co-op planning on offering a Senior-only shopping time?
A: We take the well-being of our senior customers very seriously. In our management meetings we have discussed the idea of setting up a dedicated shopping time for seniors, but we decided that for the health and safety of our older and vulnerable customers it’s not worth the risk of encouraging that group to all shop at once.
We’re sure that other stores offering these types of services have good intentions, but we didn’t feel it would be worth the risk to our customers. Social distancing is key, and we want everyone to stay as happy and healthy as possible.
If you or someone you know needs help with shopping, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Community Outreach Coordinator, Becky Colpitts, can try to put you in touch with community resources for volunteers and services. You can also contact the 211 hotline for Granite State United Way to find assistance.
Q: Can the Co-op offer pick-up, delivery, or curbside service?
A: We now offer a Curbside Pickup service for seniors, people who are highly vulnerable to COVID 19, or people who are sick and staying isolated. You may place an order online or by phone, and come pick your order up outside of the store.
Again, if you or someone you know needs help with shopping, please reach out to email@example.com. Our Community Outreach Coordinator, Becky Colpitts, can try to put you in touch with community resources for volunteers and services. You can also contact the 211 hotline for Granite State United Way to find assistance.