Covid-19 and co-ops

It's great to hear that so many co-ops are reporting an increase in memberships and interest around joining. It comes at a time when most groups are also thinking about limiting interactions between members and the food they're packing. People are finding a balance between the two though, by welcoming new members and putting new processes in place at the same time.

The following information is from The Chewsday Collective, who are a bulk buying group in Brisbane. They've written up some of the new procedures they're using and are happy to share with others. I'm including it here with their permission. Let me know if you want to add more information from your group!

Chewsday in the time of Coronavirus

We all need nutritious food, and sourcing through food collectives enables all of us to be part of an amazing network of food and care. Even - and perhaps especially - in times of physical distancing for everyone's health.

If we can all be careful, and support people to stay at home if sick or needing a drop-off, then our food collective can probably be 'safer than a supermarket', and continue to give access to nutritious foods, and to support our amazing network of farmers, Food Connect & Sovereign Foods.

Keeping everyone healthy:
  • Please do not come if you have any signs of cold or flu (e.g. sore throat, fatigue, fever or dry cough). Regardless of what illness you may have, we all need to be as healthy as we can be, so please take care & recover.
  • If you need someone to drop off your box to your house, please contact the group.
Everyone who comes to Chewsday:
  • Hand sanitiser – please use the sanitiser at the entrance, before you enter (70% alcohol, with moisturiser, no fragrances)
  • Wash and dry your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • On arrival, and
    • After handling things such as your own phone.
    • Packers please wash your hands several times during your shift, especially following a shift between types of goods, e.g. chilled, dry goods, fresh produce.
    • Hand soap & paper towels are next to the laundry sink.
  • Please greet each other in ways that don’t involve touching (these can be sincere, and/or a time to do something silly and laugh together)
  • Space ourselves out (recommended 2 m, or 'a packing station')
  • Frequently clean surfaces (scales, benches, pens, markers) with 70% alcohol spray.

Modifications to packing:

Packing shifts:
We plan to start earlier, with 1-hour shifts to enable only 1-2 packers to be present at any one time and maintain at least 2 m distance (I think we can maintain distance even with 4 packers, as we’re fortunate that the space is quite large and very well ventilated)

Everyone is being asked to stay home if they have an illness of any kind (and we’re co-ordinating drop-offs to those who can’t pack or pick up)

Gloves / Masks:
Gloves – We haven’t yet decided to supply gloves (reasoning that hand washing should be thorough and frequent anyway), but we’re interested in hearing views on this from others.

Masks – could be worn to reduce possible transmission of droplets from the wearer to others, by catching any droplets from speech or exhaling. For this purpose, they wouldn’t need to be N95 graded (which protects the wearer from inhaling tiny particles), and accessing even basic surgical masks appears to be difficult in most areas. Any clean covering of the nose and mouth should help to protect foods from being breathed on, provided it does not lead to anyone touching their face more often (to adjust etc), which itself would increase risks of transfer via the hands.  Perhaps masking could be suggested on the proviso that it is comfortable and doesn’t require any face-touching while wearing?
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