Everyone is Pitching In

“The great thing to see has been the teamwork. Everyone is supporting each other to find new ways to make this challenging situation work for our customers, our staff, and the community.”

– Rianna Koppel, Sustainability Coordinator at Ashland Food Co-op

As it continues to serve the needs of its members during the COVID-19 crisis, the Co-op has taken many steps to safeguard employees and customers. “It’s completely changed the way we work.”  The Co-op has added masks and hand sanitizer, one-way aisles, floor stickers for social distancing at checkout, plexiglass shields at checkout, and senior shopping hours in the morning.  

The increased demands on the staff present some of the greatest challenges.

“For example, we’ve always focused on self-serve bulk products, but now everything is packaged. This is something we never did before, and we’re not staffed to do it.  Everyone is pitching in.”

Rianna has noticed that fewer customers are coming into the store, but they are buying a lot more at once. This has put pressure on the Co-op’s inventory. Combined with delivery shortages and delays, the Co-op has had to ration purchase quantities on some items. Working and shopping during the COVID-19 crisis is demanding great patience, consideration and courtesy among all.

Perhaps more than ever, the Co-op’s commitment to its zero-waste goals is making a difference in the community.

“The pre-consumer scraps program continues to provide barrels of scraps every day to local farms to feed the animals. And imperfect produce and other remaining items are picked up every night by the Ashland Food Angels, the local volunteer organization that collects and redistributes food to increase local food security for those in need and make sure no good food goes to waste.”

Ashland Food Co-Op, 237 N. First Street, Ashland OR  97520

This story is part of a series that explores how COVID-19 has shifted the landscape around how people in Oregon buy, use, and store food. As an agency committed to reducing the environmental impacts of food, we are grateful for the ongoing commitment of all who are doing the vital work to get food to our table and make sure little goes to waste during this unprecedented time. To learn more about how these partners are helping and how you can help, click here

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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