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 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, counter tops, registers, restrooms, shopping cart handles and more.
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 hand washing 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.
We have touchless hand sanitizer stations now set up in the entry and exit, as well as near the restrooms, produce area, bulk area, meat department and dairy. Please look for these grey wall-mounted boxes the next time you are in the store.
Our cashiers disinfect the register belts and bagging stations between each order, as well as sanitize their hands before waiting on the next customer. Please be patient while this process is taking place as it is for your health and protection.
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. We also accept touchless payments such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, which are even safer.
When you visit the store you will see many reminders about social distancing, maintaining a 6-foot distance, shopping solo and wearing a face covering. 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. We have also discontinued the practice of having additional staff pack up your order. We felt this introduced one more person handling your food as well as a challenge to proper social distancing at the checkout counter. Please plan on assisting your cashier in bagging or boxing up your groceries.
In the aisles, please give employees extra space when they are stocking. It is a difficult and challenging job keeping the shelves full while the store is open. Please do not reach over employees or other shoppers to retrieve something from the shelves. Maintain a safe 6-foot distance and ask about the item you need. Our staff will gladly move aside or reach the item for you.
Here are some grocery shopping tips to keep everyone safe & healthy:
- Customers should wear a cloth face covering or mask at all times within the store.
- Stay home and do not shop in the store if you are sick.
- Please stay 6 feet away from other people while you shop.
- Shop solo to limit the number of people in the store.
- Make a shopping list, considering ways to minimize shopping trips. Shop efficiently (use our map!) and socialize outside.
- Cover your cough or sneeze, wash hands often, use sanitizer and 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, or use contactless payment, 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 have several options in place to provide paid time off 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. There are also many 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 sampling event days, in-store classes and workshops until it seems prudent to bring them back.
In order to promote healthy social distancing practices, we have moved our monthly Board Meetings online. We are postponing the Annual Meeting until a future date, with annual board elections occurring online as well.
We are also temporarily suspending Member Appreciation Days & Senior Discount Days, opting instead to begin a floating member discount that our membership can use on the day of their choice. We want to emphasize that we still love and appreciate our Members, but we don’t want to encourage people to congregate at the store on a specific day.
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. Please be courteous and mindful as you shop, realizing we are all working through these challenges together. Please be patient when needing to wait, or when a product is unavailable due to supplier issues. 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.
Please shop solo, shop efficiently and wear a face covering. 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 at any given time, 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. Remember that our employees on the front lines have their hands full with the challenging new essential position they have found themselves in. If you have a concern or suggestion, please ask for a manager. You can also email email@example.com. We will be glad to listen and provide assistance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (603) 444-2800 x 241 and leave a message.