COVID-19 Updates from the Co-op

Dear community members,

We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the concerns around COVID-19 and its impact on our community. We take the health and safety of our Co-op community seriously, and want to assure you, our Members and customers that we are taking every step to ensure best practices during this time. We are closely monitoring the current COVID-19 outbreak and following the recommendations of the CDC, FDA, and Vermont Department of Health. Below is a general overview of how we are ensuring best practices across our stores. We will keep this page updated as new information arises.

UPDATED April 8, 2020 at 12:30pm (new information in red)

Co-op Preparedness

The health and safety of our community is our number one priority at the Co-op. Our existing practices focus heavily on sanitation and food safety and we have increased our use of sanitizing agents across the stores, including implementing more frequent sanitation of check-out areas, baskets and carts, and door handles. We have also worked with our distributors to increase our standard orders of shelf stable items to ensure that we are able to best meet the needs of our community as they prepare for a variety of situations. That said, we have experienced minimal supply chain interruptions and may continue to see this as demand increases across the areas that our distributors service. We will do our best to keep our community informed of any out of stock items and will actively seek alternatives when possible.

Agreement Reached: Staff Appreciation Bonus

We are pleased to share that the UE Local 203’s Executive Board and our Management Team reached a MOU around additional staff compensation during the current state of emergency. The two parties agreed to an appreciation bonus that amounts to $120 per week for 40 hours worked (prorated based on hours worked). Bonuses will be retroactively applied back to March 15 and paid weekly to staff. We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts these past few weeks. There is no doubt that these are trying times and we’re hopeful that we can continue to work together as we navigate changes to operations and our evolving role as a community resource. We will continue to work to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit. Click here for further details.

Customer Limits

Starting Thursday, April 9, we will be limiting the number of customers allowed in the store at any given time to allow for proper social distancing. The maximum amount of customers allowed in the store will be 50 at the Downtown store and 60 at the South End store. Our staff will be at the entrance and exit ways to facilitate queuing if and when we reach these quotas. These limits will allow for safe distancing for customers and staff inside of our stores and represent less than 15% of our total allowed capacity for the space. Thank you for your understanding as we seek to ensure proper social distancing to increase safety measures for staff, customers, and Members.

Update to Return Policy

Starting Wednesday April 8th and until further notice, we will no longer be accepting product returns to reduce the risk of potential contamination. Thank you for your understanding as we seek to provide the safest possible environment for our staff, customers, and Members. 

Update to Special Order Policy

Starting Wednesday, April 8th, we will no longer accept Special Orders for product due to disruptions to supply chains and lack of consistency in availability with our distributors. We apologize for the inconvenience and are committed to reinstituting this program as quickly as possible, dependent on consistency within our supply chain. 

Increased Sanitizing & Cleaning

We have distributed extra sanitizer wipes throughout the store and staff workspaces to encourage increased surface cleaning. We have increased the frequency of surface cleaning by our Facilities teams in common areas, to include handrails, door handles, carts, baskets, etc.

Additional Security Added

We have hired an outside security firm to provide additional safety support during this time. Starting Tuesday, March 31, there will be onsite security at both store locations to help with traffic and overall store security.

Temporary Store Hour Changes

Effective starting Sunday, March 29, we will be changing our store hours temporarily to allow for more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores, and give our staff time to rest in preparation for the next day. Our temporary store hours of operation will be: Downtown 7am - 8pm and South End 7am - 7pm. We are also still designating the 7-8am hour daily to adults 60 and older, immune compromised individuals, and those who identify as high risk.

Reusable Bags & Containers Updates

To support the overall health of our community, we have made the difficult decision to prohibit the use of reusable bags and containers in our stores in order to reduce the risk of contamination. While we remain committed to the environment, we recognize the importance of taking all reasonable measures to support the health of our staff, customers, and Members and as such are seeking to selections reduce the number of items that are brought into the store. As of Saturday, March 28, we will no longer allow customers to bring outside grocery bags or containers for Bulk items, coffee, kombucha, or single-use/single-serving bottles that are used to drink out of for Reverse Osmosis water. Large refillable bottles for water that you do not drink directly from are still okay. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. 

Bulk Department Updates

In an effort to reduce potential contamination, gloves are required when making your selections in the Bulk department. In addition, we will be removing all products from bins requiring a scoop or tongs and transitioning many of those items to pre-packaged. These items will be clearly labeled and priced to help relieve any confusion. 

Front End Updates

In an effort to provide additional safety measures where physical distancing options are limited, we've installed plexi-glass shields at all check-out registers. 

Additional Gloves Available

Gloves are available for staff and customer use throughout our stores, particularly in these departments: Produce, Self-serve pastries and bagels, Check-out registers.

Designated Morning Shopping Hour

The suggestion to provide an early morning shopping hour for older adults and immune compromised individuals has been proposed by a variety of individuals, demonstrating one of the many ways that our community has continued to demonstrate its capacity for kindness and care in moments of distress.

While we do not want to turn anyone away, recognizing the importance of access to resources at this critical time, we will be designating the 7-8am hour daily to adults 60 and older, immune compromised individuals, and those who identify as high risk to provide a shopping experience that best allows these individuals to practice proper social distancing. Typically, this hour represents the lowest volume of sales and traffic across our stores, offering ample space to shop for items and implement best practices around physical proximity.

We will be implementing this change as of store opening on Friday, March 20th. We’d ask that community members with the flexibility to make their visits to the stores at a later hour do so whenever possible in order to provide this resource for those who qualify.

Click here to read the full statement.

Limited Home Delivery Service Available, Fee Waived for Seniors and FFA

We are experiencing a surge in requests for our delivery services. Our delivery program operates in a limited capacity and while we would love to ramp up that capacity to meet the growing demand, we are balancing a myriad of other needs to continue serving our community. We are still taking orders, but please note that all payments are done over the phone and that we may not be able to guarantee our usual 24-hour delivery time.

Please note that we will be offering free delivery to all seniors and Food for All Members through April 30th. All other normal delivery policies still apply.

Click here for more information about home delivery.

Hot/Cold Bar and Sandwiches Now Pre-Packaged

We have transitioned to pre-packaged items at our hot/cold bars to reduce the risk of contamination. Many of our signature sandwiches are now available pre-made at the hot/cold bars while our sandwich station is closed.

Self-Serve Coffee Discontinued

Staff are now serving coffee in to-go cups only. Single-serve creamers and sweeteners are available. Personal reusable mugs may not be used at this time.

Café Seating Areas Closed

We have closed our café spaces at both stores in order to comply with social distancing recommendations.

Bottle Redemption Discontinued

As recommended by the DEC, we will halt bottle redemption until and potentially beyond April 30.

Classes & Events

The health and safety of our community is our top priority at the Co-op. After careful consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to pause our educational programming due to heightened concern around COVID-19 and the recommendation to limit public gatherings as part of overall preventative measures. We will be canceling all classes and events scheduled through April and refunding all attendees who have previously purchased tickets. Before the start of May, we will reassess the situation and communicate around plans for May offerings. We appreciate your understanding at this time and want to assure you that we are taking every measure across our stores to ensure the safety of our customers, Members, and broader community. Thank you for your understanding.

Please contact City Market’s Assistant Outreach & Education Manager, Carrie Putscher with any questions at cputscher@citymarket.coop or (802) 861-9757. 

Member Worker Orientations

After careful consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to pause our member worker orientations due to heightened concern around COVID-19 and the recommendation to limit public gatherings as part of overall preventative measures. We will be canceling all orientations scheduled for the month of March. Before the start of April, we will reassess the situation and communicate around plans for April offerings. The health and safety of our community is our top priority at the Co-op. Thank you for your understanding.

Please contact City Market's Membership Manager, Caroline Aubry with any questions at caubry@citymarket.coop or (802) 861-9707.

Food Safety

Food safety is of the upmost importance at the Co-op. Our employees must follow a strict set of procedures when handling a wide variety of products from prepared foods to fresh items, and even packaged items across our different departments.

Many employees are ServSafe® certified, with the majority of our Prepared Foods department staff certified in the ServSafe® Protection Manager Certification Examination, a higher level certification offered by ServSafe®. ServSafe® is a highly regarded food-safety training program administered by the U.S. National Restaurant Association.

Employee Wellness

We understand that ensuring the health and wellness of our Co-op staff is integral to ensuring the health and wellness of our broader community. That said, in addition to reminding our staff of proper sanitation and handwashing techniques, as well as continuously updating communication around COVID-19, we offer generous Paid Time Off (PTO), and encourage employees to err on the side of caution should any concern over well-being arise.

At the Co-op, employees are encouraged to use their paid time off, stay home, and reduce the spread of illness. Additionally, we offer a comprehensive benefits package with healthcare coverage for both part and full time employees, so employees are not making the difficult choice of choosing to forego a visit to the doctor’s office due to concerns over out of pocket expenses. At the Co-op, we have consistently emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to benefits, ensuring that our employees have access to high quality medical care as a part of their overall compensation package.

Resources

We understand that there is a lot of uncertainty during this time and encourage our community members to review the resources below for the most up to date and comprehensive information available.

As always, we are happy to field questions or provide further clarity about our practices and appreciate your understanding as we navigate this evolving reality. Please reach out to our Assistant Director of Community Engagement, Mae Quilty at mquilty@citymarket.coop to share your thoughts. You can also reach us at 802-861-9753.