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Co-op Updates: COVID-19
Update December 10, 2020
Since our last Covid-19 update, we have one more employee test positive and one more test negative for Covid-19. There was no close contact between the employee and other employees and shoppers and all employees have recovered and are back at work. We have also had 2 employees quarantine because of exposure outside of work. We have not experienced any workplace transmission of the virus so far, and are still taking all the safety precautions that are required of us.
Thanks to all in our community for continuing to take the pandemic seriously, Covid-19 diagnoses are becoming widespread in St. Louis County and now, more than ever, it is important we keep each other safe. Learn more about our Safe Shopping Tips, including use of our online ordering and Curbside Pickup services at: https://bit.ly/3n4YAUc
Anja Parenteau, General Manager
Update November 18, 2020
Dear Natural Harvest Food Co-op Community,
Today we learned that an employee of Natural Harvest Food Co-op tested positive for COVID-19. Our primary concern is the recovery and wellness of our employee, as well as supporting the continued health and safety of our staff and community.
Upon learning of the positive case, we immediately followed all the recommended guidelines from public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and city, county and state public health departments.
Given the timing of the positive test and the last shift the employee worked on November 10th, there is no risk of exposure for our staff and the Co-op is safe to remain open and serve our shoppers.
Following Natural Harvest Food Co-op’s COVID-19 Response Plan, we have notified all Co-op employees.
We continue to follow strict safety protocols, including screening all Natural Harvest Food Co-op employees for symptoms and exposure before starting their shift and requiring that any employee with symptoms or known exposure to a positive COVID-19 follow MDH guidance on testing and/or quarantining before being cleared to return to work. Additionally, Natural Harvest Food Co-op requires all staff to wear face coverings and eye protection at all times while working.
We continue to take the pandemic and the safety of our community seriously and believe that transparency and communication supports a best approach. With that, we want to remind you of the other ways we can keep each other safe right now:
- Wear a mask at all times in public.
- Wear your mask across your nose, mouth and chin.
- Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Monitor yourself for symptoms. If you have questions about your specific symptoms or risk factors, we encourage you to call the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline at 651-201-3920.
- Limit shopping trips, preferably with only one shopper per household in the store at any time
- Shop earlier or later in the day to avoid crowded conditions
- Use online ordering for curbside pickup. Learn more at naturalharvest.coop/departments/shop-for-me-2/
We are committed to providing a safe place to work and shop for our employees, shoppers and owners. Thank you for your continued trust in the Co-op and for doing your part to keep our community safe.
Update October 26, 2020
Dear Co-op Owners,
I am writing to let you know about an update to our mask enforcement policy, which will go into effect today, Monday October 26, 2020.
As we enter our busy season at Natural Harvest, the health and safety of our staff, customers and community remains at the forefront of our minds and decision making. We are all aware of the rising COVID-19 infections in our local communities and in order to protect the health and safety of everyone in our store, effective today, we will be strictly enforcing our state’s mask mandate.
This means that masks, worn correctly, will be required by anyone entering our store. In addition, per CDC recommendations*, face shields will no longer be allowed as an alternative to face masks. We will continue to offer masks to any patron who needs one. For anyone who is not able to wear a face mask, we are happy to shop for you and I ask you to utilize our curbside service.
We continue to have deep appreciation for your support and understanding during this difficult time. As always, I welcome your feedback and invite you to contact me directly at email@example.com if you have any questions, concerns or kudos to share.
*While all face coverings vary in their effectiveness, as per the CDC, “There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control. Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.”
Update October 14, 2020
Punch Cards are Back:
We are now accepting sandwich club and coffee club punch cards.
Stop by the deli for a sandwich and hot cup of Joe today!
Update September 24, 2020
Special Orders for Owners are Back:
Special orders are now part of our Ownership Benefits package, you must be a NHFC Owner to place a special order.
Case Discount for Owners:
The 10% case discount is also back for Owners. This discount is only applied to qualifying cases that have been special ordered. The case discount is not valid on sale items, this includes but is not limited to co+op deals, fresh deals, owner deals, hot deals, and co+op basics.
Update September 1, 2020
$4 Community Dinners on hold until further notice.
Community Dinner nights have been growing in popularity in many Co-op’s across the country as well as here at Natural Harvest. The event was built on the goodwill of bringing families and community members closer together over a delicious meal and it has been wonderful to see growth in the number of meals we honorably serve the community.
Each month we review sales data from the event and generally celebrate the growth in the number of meals served. However, now that we must factor in the “new normal” our data must be interpreted differently. With that being said, we have concluded it will be best to temporarily discontinue the monthly $4 Dinner nights to prevent crowding inside the store.
Thank you all for supporting these events over the past year, we look forward to starting them back up again in the future.
Update August 7, 2020
Owner Discount Update:
Due to the need for managing Co-op finances more responsibly during the pandemic and beyond, we are updating our owner perks to ensure a healthy financial position long into the future for our Co-op. Proactively making these changes will allow for the Co-op to continue growing in a way that will meet the needs of our community for many years to come.
The monthly owner discount is being replaced with a coupon-based reward system. The 5% discount (which was capped at $5 per month) basically functioned as a rebate to owners, but this rebate was being paid out before knowing whether or not the Co-op was making a profit for the year, and it left very little opportunity to budget how much was being paid out.
This month, we will send out our first owner perk coupon to show appreciation for your continued patronage; we are planning to send these out on a quarterly basis. As Co-op finances allow, we will continue offering these coupons as we work towards profitability and the return of patronage rebates.
Patronage rebates were paid out in 2015, 2016 and 2017 because the Co-op made a profit. The move to the new building meant that we were going to work towards profitability for several years, which is a normal course of business after an expansion. By tightening the belt on discounts, our Co-op will be on track to a more financially sound way of sharing profits sooner. This will be done through the patronage rebate system, and it will put the Co-op in a much stronger position financially. Thank you for understanding!
Anja Parenteau (General Manager)
Update July 24, 2020
Mask Up Minnesota – Executive Order
As of July 25, 2020, per the Governor’s Executive Order 20-81, people in Minnesota are required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and indoor businesses.
- The mandate includes ages 5+
- Disposable masks will be offered at customer service while supplies last
- Online ordering and curbside pickup available
- Please keep distance from staff and other shoppers
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Co-op’s enforcement of this order, please ask to speak to our General Manager directly in-store or contact her via phone or email. Thank you for your cooperation in these efforts to keep your co-op staff, fellow shoppers, and our Iron Range community members healthy.
Anja Parenteau (General Manager)
Gov. Walz Issues Statewide Mask Mandate for Minnesota (Article)
Minnesota Department of Health
Frequently Asked Questions About the Requirement to Wear Face Coverings
Update June 1, 2020
The Hot Bar and Salad Bar are back in a new way!
All items will be served in prepacked grab & go style.
Hot Bar: Monday-Friday (11:00-2:00) *while supplies last
Salad Bar: Open Daily
Effective June 1st, all Co-op staff are required to wear a face-covering or face shield.
Co-op shoppers are also encouraged to wear coverings. We wear them for you, please wear them for us.
Update May 18, 2020
Specialty sandwiches are back with a limited menu!
Now offering: The Pesto Turkey and The Cuban
As deli orders start to pick up more of your favorite sandwiches will return.
Update May 11, 2020
New Store Hours
Weekdays: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sundays: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Update May 6, 2020
Face Coverings – Let’s Protect Each Other
- Please wear a face covering when shopping at your Co-op.
- If you would like to donate homemade cloth masks for Co-op employees please reach out to our Marketing Director: (218) 741-4663 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cart wipes are becoming difficult to keep in-stock you can help by bringing your own supply of wipes when shopping.
- In the event we run out of cart wipes spray sanitizer and paper towels will be available for customers to wipe carts.
- Co-op staff will also be wiping down carts and baskets frequently throughout the day.
- If you would like to donate cart wipes to the Co-op please contact our Marketing Director: (218) 741-4663 or email@example.com
Staff & Shopper Safety Reminders
- Stay home if you are ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill.
- Have friends or family shop for you if you’re at risk.
- Reserve our first hour of business each day for high risk shoppers.
- Plan ahead by making list in order to limit your number of shopping trips.
- Shop alone if possible.
- Avoid shopping during hours of high customer traffic.
- Please wear a mask when you shop.
- Use sanitizing wipes to wipe down carts and baskets.
- Use sanitizer to disinfect your hands before and after shopping.
- Keep 6 feet of distance from staff and other shoppers.
- Limit socializing and avoid congregating while inside the store.
- Use credit cards over cash to reduce contact at the register.
- Consider using our Curbside Pickup program.
- Wash your hands after handling and putting away groceries.
Update May 5, 2020
Reusable Bags & Containers Reminder
- Until further notice reusable containers and produce bags are not to be used in the store.
- You can still bring a reusable grocery bag but will be asked to bag bag your own groceries.
Update May 4, 2020
Staff Temperature Logging
- In support of hosting a safe working and shopping environment all Co-op staff now have their temperatures taken when they arrive for their shifts. If a staff member is displaying a fever they will be sent home and will follow CDC recommendations regarding when it will be safe for them to return to work.
Update April 9, 2020
Sandwich & Coffee Punch Cards
- To reduce contact the punch card programs have been suspended until further notice.
- Please hang on to your cards for when the situation changes.
Update March 31, 2020
Bulk Days Sale April 22-25
- Canceled due to social distancing and supply limitations
NHFC Bag Program – Postponed
To reduce waste, it had been announced in the spring newsletter that the Co-op would start charging for bags effective April 22, 2020. This has been postponed given current the pandemic situation.
Update March 30, 2020
New Store Hours
Weekdays: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sundays: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
We anticipate these hours to be in effect until the “Stay at Home” order is lifted by the Governor of Minnesota.
Update March 27, 2020
Emergency Worker Benefits
The State of Minnesota has declared grocery stores as essential businesses and grocery workers are now emergency workers.
- All staff will receive an “Emergency Worker” wage increase of $2 per hour.
- All staff have been awarded with an additional week of PTO.
Owner Discount Suspended Effective April 1, 2020
In support of Emergency Worker Benefits and the long-term financial health of our Co-op, the monthly 5% Owner Discount has been suspended along with the New Owner 5% Discount we would offer on the day of Ownership investment.
*These changes were presented by our General Manger to our Board of Directors during the March meeting. Your Board of Directors is in full support of the change.
Annual Meeting of Owners to be Held Virtually
The meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 6:00 PM. The meeting weblink will be shared closer to the meeting date. We are unable to offer Board Election voting during the meeting.
Board Election Voting
Ballots Must Reach the Co-op by 7:00 PM on Wednesday, April 29.
We are unable to offer last minute voting during the Virtual Annual Meeting. Ballots are available in-store and on our website.
Update March 25, 2020
Suspending Product Returns
- Until further notice, product returns or exchanges are no longer accepted.
Practice Social Distancing
- Please do your best to stay 6ft away from staff and shoppers who are not your immediate family.
- Please do not congregate unnecessarily and limit your time in the store.
- If you have the option please shop alone to help limit the number of people inside the store at one time.
- Limit your shopping trips and only shop for what you need.
- Utilize our new “Shop for Me” program with curbside pickup.
Limit Contact at the Checkout
- Avoid paying with cash or check. Credit or debit payments preferred.
- Go the extra mile & purchase a reloadable gift card to reduce cash usage.
- Mind the lines, tape has been placed on the floor at the checkouts as a reminder to keep distance from other customers and cashiers.
- Do your best to give cashiers space when checking out.
- If you bring your own bag you will be asked to bag your own groceries.
Update March 19, 2020
New Store Hours Effective Saturday, March 21st
Store Hours are changing to 9am-7pm daily, effective March 21. This allows us extra time to clean, stock shelves and best serve our community.
We are proactively starting to prepack all Bulk items until further notice. Items will be marked with their PLU number and weight for your convenience.
Special Orders & Product Limits
We’re experiencing consistent out-of-stocks from our suppliers. To help ensure that we’re able to provide the best access to available items for our shoppers we are taking the following temporary measures effective immediately:
Suspending special orders until further notice. All special orders that have arrived need to be picked up by Friday, March 27 at 8pm. Items not picked up will be stocked on the shelves.
We are also in the process of imposing purchase limits on products that are in high demand, signage will be posted near these products indicating their limit amount.
Update March 17, 2020
Natural Harvest Food Co-op is committed to the health and safety of our employees, shoppers and community. In response to current events we have increased our efforts to provide everyone with a safe and sanitary working and shopping environment.
We are committed to the keeping the doors open, the shelves stocked and have the safety of our staff and shoppers at top priority. We will continue to follow all local, state, and federal recommendations and are prepared to act within our emergency preparedness plan.
We are currently taking preventive measures:
- We are monitoring the guidelines for the food industry as established by the Department of Health and the CDC and will comply with their recommendations.
- We have implemented an even more thorough cleaning schedule of common surfaces such as door handles, shared workstations, payment machines, carts, baskets, and other high touch surfaces.
- While staff are always required to wash their hands, we are reminding and encouraging more frequent hand washing as well as providing them with hand sanitizer.
- All sampling has been suspended along with the Co+op Explorer free fruit program. Testers have been removed from the Wellness department.
- We will continue to review and update employer practices to best support the health and safety of our employees.
- As always, employees will be encouraged to stay home when showing symptoms of illness.
- Regular communications with our staff regarding the situation and providing them with the most up-to-date safety guidance, as recommended by the CDC and other health officials.
- We have closed our seating areas in support of social distancing in addition to canceling upcoming classes, events, and community group meetings.
- Our deli is also implementing preventative measures which include:
- All Hot Bar & Salad Bar items will be prepackaged and served from our Grab & Go Deli Cooler.
- Drip coffee and tea will no longer be self-serve, it must be ordered from a deli staff.
- All specialty sandwiches and beverages will be served in to-go containers.
- Reusable cups will not be accepted for use.
- Bakery items are now individually wrapped.
How we’ve been affected so far:
Supply on some products has tightened and this has led to some out of stock items. Our manufacturers are working to replenish inventories as quickly as possible, and we are doing our best to keep items in stock. Our goal is to remain open and available to meet the needs of our community.
How you can help:
As a shopper of your Co-op we are asking to you partner with us in working to flatten the curve and prevent the spread COVID-19. If you are showing signs of illness or have been in contact with someone who is ill, please stay home. Social distancing is caring.
- St. Louis County
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Org, ization (WHO)
Please check back here for updates. As this situation progresses, we are preparing to implement additional measures to ensure the health and safety our staff, shoppers and community.
NHFC General Manager
If you have any questions please reach out by phone (218) 741-4663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org