“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.”