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Letter to Editor: From Ashland Food Co-Op Board of Directors

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The Ashland Food Co-op has played a critical role supporting our community for nearly 50 years by providing healthy food and a safe place to shop.  With the recent Covid 19 shutdown, this support has been even more important and has stretched our organization in ways that we could not have anticipated.  We have endeavored to address the needs of both our staff and our customers, hopefully in the most cooperative manner.

For the protection of everyone, we have required all our staff who are able to wear a face covering.  We are now also requiring all shoppers who are able to wear face coverings when they are in the store.

We understand that there are a wide range of opinions and beliefs within our community about whether this is a valuable protection or an unnecessary infringement on personal choices. There are two primary reasons why we have taken this action.

First, we want to afford our staff as much protection as we can. The majority of our 160 employees are working in the store five days per week, eight hours per day.  Meanwhile our average shopper is visiting the store once or twice per week for 10 to 30 minutes. We are currently averaging 1,700 shopper visits per day.  Other than grocery stores, there are few other settings with this level of personal interaction at this time. While our employees have accepted the need to wear face coverings for the protection of our customers and the store environment, they have little control over what our customers bring into the store. By adopting this policy we are adding one more protection for our staff.

Secondly, we have a large number of customers who don’t feel safe shopping in the store with others who aren’t wearing a face covering and who may unintentionally be spreading the virus. We believe it is a small sacrifice to ask all customers to wear a face covering during their brief time in the store for the sake of others they may be putting at risk. Accordingly we are making masks available at the store entrance, free of charge, for those that need one.

We look forward to the time when we can all shop and engage with each other in the open and unimpeded manner that has always been a part of the Co-op experience!

Ashland Food Co-op Board of Directors
Ed Claassen, Julie O’Dwyer, Trine Ostergaard, Charlie Douglas, Melina Barker, Lisa Beam, Annie Hoy, Steve Bowman

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