Co-op Blog

Skagit Valley Food Co-op’s Response to COVID-19

It is often the case, in difficult times, that grocery stores are a vital resource to the communities they serve. The recent development of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region is proving that this continues to be true.

You have come to us in recent days to stock your pantry, replenish cleaning supplies, and prepare alongside others in the community. As a grocery store, our Co-op is in the unique position of offering essential services for our communities while also doing all we can to minimize risk to our staff, members, and shoppers.

What our Co-op is doing to best serve you, care for our staff, and be a responsible member of our community:

  • We have adjusted our hours of operation: the Co-op is open 9am-7pm daily.
  • We have implemented reserved shopping hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 8am-9am for people who are age 60 or older, pregnant, or otherwise at high risk of infection. If you do not fall into any of these categories, we invite you to shop with us starting at 9am each day.
  • Members and shoppers have requested hand sanitizer and sanitized wipes to cleanse cart and hand basket handles. With the increased demand nationwide for these items, we are having difficulty procuring them for our stores. While we work to find a supplier, we are tasking staff with frequently sanitizing these high-touch areas.
  • Our Co-op prides itself on its cleanliness and food safety standards, and has full-time health and safety, and food safety managers on staff. With their support, and following guidance from the CDC and other agencies, we have implemented even more rigorous cleaning practices throughout all of our stores. This includes frequently sanitizing high-touch locations like payment machines, scales, bathroom areas, and, as mentioned above, carts and hand baskets.
  • Sanitation of all grocery carts and handcarts after each use.
  • Surfaces are wiped down and sanitized multiple times throughout the day.
  • We’ve closed down all self-serve food areas: the Deli hot bar, salad bar, olive bar, and Bulk Food Department. (We’ve prepackaged our most popular and in-demand bulk items for you to grab and go.)
  • Closed the Mezzanine
  • Suspended made-to-order sandwiches
  • Wrapping all of our bakery goods
  • As a grocer, our staff is well-trained on food safety. All of our in-house fresh food departments follow very specific food safety protocols.
  • We have stopped accepting personal cups at our espresso bars and have ceased self-serve sampling. Additionally, any staff handling ready-to-eat foods are already required to wear gloves or use tongs.
  • We are working closely with our suppliers to ensure we have the essentials that you are seeking, like pantry staples, cleaning supplies, and health and body care items.
  • We have cancelled upcoming Co-op events through April 30, as well as upcoming meetings on our 3rd floor, and will continue to do so as needed.
  • We’ve taken measures to encourage social distancing in the store through signage, clearly marked lines at the registers and temporary plexiglass panes at our Grocery registers.
  • We’ve temporarily closed C-SQUARE & Third Street Cafe in accordance with Washington State requirements.
  • Placed markings on the floor to help control six-foot spacing
  • May 1st Update: We will not be requiring shoppers to wear masks or other coverings, but we will be posting signs that request shoppers to wear appropriate face coverings while they shop.
  • May 1st Update: We also launched our Co-op Curbside online ordering and curbside pick-up service, so anyone can get groceries and avoid coming into the store altogether. You can learn more about Co-op Curbside at skagitfoodcoop.com
  • May 1st Update: New credit card readers at check-out that allow for touchless payment

How We’re Caring for Our Employees:

  • May 1st Update: Starting May 11th (assuming we can secure adequate supplies by this date) all staff working the sales floor will be required to wear a mask or other acceptable cloth covering of mouth and nose. A plexiglass face shield will also be acceptable. The Co-op will supply all staff with a couple of mask options, and we will provide all staff with best practices to keep their facial coverings clean and sanitary.
  • We have asked any staff exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness or fever to stay home and notify their physician. We have also given our staff who have underlying medical conditions the option to stay home to minimize any potential exposure. Our Co-op has a generous sick and vacation policy, and we are working with employees on a case-by-case basis to ensure they have the support they need.
  • We’re allowing those who can work from home to do so.
  • We’ve been providing free lunches to working staff.
  • All staff are to receive a “Hero Bonus” for time worked in March: the bonus adds $2/hr for all staff and $4/hr for cashier for all hours worked
  • Starting April 1st, all hourly staff will receive an additional $4/hr and cashiers will receive an additional $5/hr. We’ll be evaluating the amount of extra pay as time goes on and adjust accordingly.
  • Throughout all of this, we are making additional efforts to demonstrate our gratitude to our staff who continue to work each day with commitment, compassion, and kindness to ensure our stores are stocked, clean, and ready to serve you.

We anticipate that guidance from federal, state, and local agencies may change rapidly over the coming days and weeks. We will continue to monitor closely and be nimble in adjusting our operations to prioritize the health and safety of you and our staff.

What We Are Asking Our Community To Do:

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Practice good hygiene and handwashing practices
  • Practice social distancing: please remain six feet away from people who are not your immediate family. And smile!
By: Co-op Staff

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