New Mask Policy Begins July 1st!

Update: June 29, 2021

Starting on July 1st, we will shift our mask requirements for everyone, including staff, to only require masks for all those who are not fully vaccinated.

We are lifting all our COVID-era policies, except the:

  • Requirement for those who are not fully vaccinated to wear face masks,
  • 8am – 9am daily masked hour when all staff and customers will continue to be required to wear face masks. Our morning masked hour is to support all those who require the extra caution of face masks for all while shopping inside of our stores.

These policies apply to both the Northampton and the Easthampton location, which will be opening on July 1st at 10:30am immediately following the 10am ribbon-cutting ceremony.

We encourage everyone who wishes to continue covering their muzzle to keep doing so. The co-op has also asked unmasked staff to have masks on hand. In the event you feel more comfortable when talking to a member of our staff that has opted not to be masked, let us know and we will gladly put one on. We want to make sure that everyone feels welcome to shop at the co-op. 

If these changes do not meet your needs, our Northampton store offers a Curbside Pickup service. We run Curbside Pickup every day. Visit our website here to place an order or read about the service.

We know that our efforts through the pandemic have provided a sense of security for over a year and that we are in a transitional time. As we move forward, we will continue to evaluate the available information and adapt our policies as needed.

Thank you everyone for your kindness and understanding going forward in regards to people's needs related to face masks.


Face Masks! Easthampton Store! Historical Site!

May 28, 2021

Northampton is Rescinding its COVID Mask Mandate for Fully Vaccinated People beginning Saturday, May 29th.

A few weeks ago, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people could safely resume normal activities without social distancing or face masks. This was followed by the Governor of Massachusetts announcing the end of all retail COVID restrictions for fully vaccinated people in the state of Massachusetts starting on May 29th. This week, Northampton joined the state in lifting their retail COVID restrictions for all fully vaccinated people as well, beginning Saturday, May 29th.  

In light of Northampton's decision to lift COVID restrictions, we congratulate all who have made this possible by getting vaccinated. We, too, will adapt many of our COVID restrictions to adjust to this new phase, although a bit more cautiously than the city regulations.

We will continue requiring face masks for all our employees while working in the co-op for a while longer. We will re-evaluate this over the course of the coming month and let you know if we make a change to this policy.  

Beginning Saturday, May 29th, the Co-op will lift our limitations on the number of customers in accordance with the change in City and State policies that eliminated all retail, social distancing and reduced store capacity limits.

 


We strongly encourage everyone that can to continue to cover your muzzle in the store through the end of June.

  • Face masks are not required for those who are fully vaccinated, but we do strongly encourage our shoppers to continue wearing them in the store with us awhile longer, through the end of June. We will re-evaluate this in mid-June and and keep you updated if we make any changes to this policy.

  • If you are not fully vaccinated, a face mask is required for admission to the store (or face shield for those who require a face mask accommodation).  

  • We will have complimentary face masks and face shields available in the front entryway for you to use if needed. 

  • 6-foot social distancing and one-way aisles will be discontinued.

  • We will continue to reserve our first hour, 8 am-9 am, for the immune-compromised, seniors (60+) or anyone who prefers shopping in an all masked store. From 8 am-9 am, face masks are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to support this reserved shopping hour. In addition, the number of shoppers will be limited to 60 at a time to help support social distancing.  

  • We will not be asking for proof of vaccination to enter the store. We are counting on your support for everyone's safety. 

We know this change might be difficult to get used to for many people, and for some, it will feel like we are overly cautious. We are stepping forward with caution and care. We urge everyone to be kind to one another as we begin the process of adapting to this vaccination phase of COVID in our community.

It is a very good feeling knowing the vaccine is showing strong effectiveness and experiencing the overall relief that knowledge brings. As we move forward, we will continue to evaluate the available information and adapt our policies as needed.

If these policies make it uncomfortable coming into our store to shop, we encourage you to use our Curbside Pickup service! We run Curbside Pickup every day. Visit our website here to place an order or read about the service.

We welcome your feedback as we invite you to ease into the new vaccine phase with us in a few steps, instead of a single leap.

Thank you for your support for taking things a little slower at the co-op before returning to fully "normal"! 

Hiring 75 new employees is underway! Our next job fair is coming up Thursday, June 3rd, at 4 pm on the Easthampton Store patio. You can also apply online. We have a good variety of Union jobs available, mostly full-time, but also some part-time. The wage scale starts at a minimum of $15/hr, and we have great benefits and a progressive retail work environment. 

It has been a lot of fun to meet new people joining our co-op team as employees, and many current employees have been promoted to higher levels of responsibility. The employees, the shoppers and co-op owners, and vendors are all important parts of what makes our co-op a fun place to work, shop, and do business with. Thank you to all considering joining our team. 

Every day the Easthampton store is getting closer to completion. For those that have driven by recently, you may have seen the steel solar canopy going up over our parking lot. Inside, grocery shelves have been put together, equipment is being installed, and more equipment is arriving over the coming weeks. Inside and out, many finishing touches are underway. 

Big thanks to Wright Builders, Tom Douglas Architects, Berkshire Design, Co-op Power, PV-squared, National Co-op Grocers Development Co-op, many other contractors and community partners involved in building the Easthampton store.  

We are now aiming to open on Thursday, July 1st. Just in time for the 4th of July weekend! Stay tuned for details to come.

Northampton Historic Site Update

The Northampton Historical Commission voted unanimously on Monday, May 24th, to stand with the federally recognized Tribes to preserve the site! They explicitly named the Indigenous Nations that are engaged in exercising their federal rights in evaluating and calling for the preservation of this site. We are very grateful for their decision to make this commitment at the request of Mark Andrews, the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Resources Officer and historic site monitor assigned to this project. This commitment marks a turning point for Massachusetts's historical preservation. Thank you to the Northampton Historical Commission for your important leadership on this!

The MassDOT announced in a press release that they were canceling this project due to the public support of the historic site. On Wednesday this week, they pulled all the survey stakes and markers from the site.  

This is great news for Native American historical preservation in Massachusetts! This historic site is a very rare 8,000-10,000-year-old undisturbed village site. 8,000-10,000 years ago was a time of cultural transformation from the Paleo to the Archaic period, of which little is known. Interestingly, it remained undiscovered until now, when the region's people came together to recognize its importance and work to ensure its preservation. 

The threat of immediate destruction of this site appears to be lifted. The MassDOT announced it would be looking into alternative solutions that would not impact the site in the near future. However, we don't yet know what the next proposal will be. We remain committed to having a voice in the planning for any improvements in our neighborhood to address our community and business concerns.

The Skibiski family who owned the property where the village site and artifacts were discovered are working in partnership with the federally recognized Tribes. They are working together with the Narragansett and the Aquinnah Wampanoag for the return of the artifacts to be replaced in the ground that they came from for preservation. At this time, there have been no official steps taken by the state to list the site on the National Registry of Historic Places or to designate it as an official historic site of any kind.

We look forward to these next steps taking shape with the strong endorsement from the Northampton Historical Commission.

Thank you to the many people who worked very hard to digest and understand the information about this amazing ancient cultural discovery in our community. It has been an educational process for us to see more behind the curtain of the state and federal Native American historical preservation processes. This had given us the opportunity to learn more about the importance of the National Historic Preservation Act and the role of the public in it. Thank you for your support of Native American historic preservation in our community.

Thank You!

This has been quite a year! We have come together to support our employees, local vendors, customers and community through a pandemic crisis. We have built a new store in Easthampton to expand our cooperative services and capacity for positive impacts on our local economy and community. The Easthampton store enables us to increase purchases by millions from local food producers, add 75 new co-op jobs, and build an innovative green energy production system to offset nearly all our annual energy use. We stepped up our commitment and focus on anti-racism and developing our capacity and skills in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We helped raise awareness of weaknesses in Massachusetts policies and processes on Native American historical preservation. And, we also stopped the bulldozers that threatened a rare ancient cultural site.

A challenging year and we know much more good work remains to be done. But, wow, we've accomplished a lot together! We are very grateful to all our employees, customers, vendors, construction contractors and community partners who have worked together so well to rise to the challenges of the past year with such good outcomes! 

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

With gratitude,

Rochelle Prunty
General Manager

 

Articles:

MassDOT cancels Northampton roundabout project where 10,000-year-old artifacts found

https://www.masslive.com/news/2021/05/massdot-cancels-northampton-roundabout-project-where-10000-year-old-artifacts-found.html

 

Northampton Historical Commission votes to protect location where state planned rotary; says project would have harmed ancient American Indian site

https://www.masslive.com/news/2021/05/massdot-cancels-northampton-roundabout-project-where-10000-year-old-artifacts-found.html

Mask Update

May 19, 2021

 

We all cover our muzzles for everyone's safety! 

Last week, the CDC released a new set of broad guidelines for fully vaccinated people, including that they can be released from the mask mandate in various circumstances. The announcement caused some confusion because policies have not yet been developed to reflect this guidance, and face masks remain required in a variety of settings and circumstances for everyone. 

The CDC announcement did not result in a change in any of our policies requiring face masks. River Valley Co-op will continue to require a face mask to enter the store or wait outside the store. If you cannot wear a face mask, we have a complimentary face shield you can wear. 

On May 18th Governor Baker's announced that the mask mandate would end on May 29th in Massachusetts for many places and circumstances. The Governor stressed that private businesses may continue to set their own vaccination and masking requirements. "Businesses should do what works for them, and we should respect businesses and employers' decisions," Baker said.

We have not seen new guidance from our local health department, which sets the minimum standards for Northampton businesses. Northampton has maintained higher standards than the state in many COVID regulations for grocery stores over the last 15 months. We expect that they will be considering new information as it comes from the CDC,  the state and local community. We expect that they will announce any changes when they consider it time to do so, and we will consider the local guidance at that time as well. In any case, the regulations are minimum standards, and we maintain the right to go beyond the minimum requirements. 

We want to be very clear that River Valley Co-op has found the mask mandate to be an effective safety measure for our employees, customers, and others in our store over the last 15 months. 

Since we cannot determine who is fully immunized and who is not, we will keep the face mask requirement in place for everyone at this time.

We know many people are currently fully vaccinated, approximately 40% in Massachusetts so far. And we celebrate the news that being fully vaccinated makes your risks so low that you don't have to wear a face mask all the time. 

Our concern is that a considerably higher % of the population are required to be vaccinated to reach the 70% "herd immunity" goal. We know many want to be vaccinated but have not yet completed that process. We urge everyone eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help reach this goal. 

In the meantime, we are feeling a great deal of confidence in our system with face masks, hand washing/sanitizing, and limitations on crowd size. We will be continuing with these, including the face mask requirement. Although face masks may not be required for fully vaccinated people for many places and activities in the state as of May 29th, they will continue to be required for everyone at the co-op. River Valley Co-op made this decision on the currently available information for the safety of our 175+ employees, vendors, our shoppers and all their families. This seems especially important support for younger children who are not yet eligible for COVID vaccinations. A little more time for more people to be fully vaccinated seems prudent at this time, especially in grocery store/retail settings.

One of the few things that is clear about COVID-19 is that it is a complex virus issue we are still learning about. We have prioritized safety from the start of this pandemic, implementing measures to mitigate risks for our employees and customers as much as possible. As we've learned more, we've modified those measures along the way.

We respect that there are other views on COVID and face masks. We know there will be more information coming over the coming weeks and months to support future decision-making. We have requested that the Governor and local health department support our essential workers and our communities by continuing to require face masks for everyone in grocery stores for a while longer. It is very helpful to have regulatory support on safety. 

 

We are very grateful that our co-op owners have shown such commitment to supporting our community-owned cooperative, our employees, and our local vendors by your continued co-op purchases through this challenging time. Thank you for your ongoing support of our safety measures as well.

We sincerely appreciate that as more people get vaccinated, it helps mitigate the dangers of COVID for everyone. We recognize that it has been hard work getting the vaccine system implemented at all levels, and we are thankful for the heavy lifting by so many on this important program. We look forward to continued progress with getting more people vaccinated. In the meantime, face masks remain one of our most effective tools for grocery shopping safety. We need to remember that not everyone has had the opportunity to get vaccinated and children under 12 are not eligible. Keeping your face mask on when visiting the co-op helps everyone to be safer. 

Thank you again for your support!

In other Breaking News: Yesterday was a great day for Native American historic preservation in Massachusetts!

The MassDOT announced yesterday that it will change its road construction plans so that the pre-historic village site discovered in our Northampton store's neighborhood will not be destroyed. Huge thanks to everyone involved with this project! More on this big news will be coming soon.

 

With Gratitude,

Rochelle Prunty

General Manager

 

Vax Facts Project!

May 7, 2021—

The goal of the Vax Facts Project is to offer every Northampton resident information about vaccines and how to get an appointment both online and by phone. Info is printed in English and Spanish.
 
The vaccine flow is better than ever and now is the time to help our neighbors make informed decisions and appointments.
 
VAX FACTS TAGS—volunteers, walking solo and in teams, are hanging door tags all over town--by building, street and neighborhood.
Sign up here--and we'd love it if you help others to sign up, too.
 
VAX FACT CARDS—download the attached file for email or print sharing with clients, tenants and colleagues.
Cards are available for pick up from Northampton Neighbors while supplies last, too.
 
 
For more info, contact Madeline Lenz, the Vax Facts project coordinator at madeline.lenz95@gmail.com.
Leave a message at Northampton Neighbors (413) 341-0160.
 
 

 
 

A Message from Rochelle, our General Manager

April 28, 2021

We are happy to announce that the report this week of an employee testing positive for COVID was a false alarm. Upon final test results all employees in quarantine were released to return to work by the Department of Health. That was great news to get for all of us! 

 
Thank you for your support! 
 

  

A Message from Rochelle, our General Manager

April 27, 2021

We are happy to report that all the staff members that had to quarantine after a co-worker was diagnosed with COVID-19 have tested negative for COVID and are back to work! The employee that tested positive is recovering from home. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the community for our employees in response to our first workplace case announcement.

Unfortunately, we've been notified of another employee that was diagnosed with COVID-19. This case is entirely unrelated to the first one. Please note that the health department does not consider this to reflect any more of a safety issue than any other public location, and we were not required to report this. We are letting you know about this because we know as owners of the co-op, this is an issue you care about.

This once again underscores the importance of continued diligence with mask-wearing and social distancing. Both our customers and staff members are required to follow these COVID safety policies at the co-op to help keep everyone safer. Thank you for your support with this!

We also want to reassure everyone that all our employees have paid time off for vaccinations, sick leave, testing, and required quarantine time.

We are looking forward to getting everyone back to work once they've passed the testing and quarantine requirements.
Thanks again for your support!
 


 

A Message from Rochelle, our General Manager

April 17, 2021

Dear River Valley Co-op Community,

In the interest of transparency and to underscore the ongoing importance of remaining vigilant about the importance of COVID-19 safety precautions, we want to inform you that on Friday, April 16, 2021, we learned that an employee from our co-op store has tested positive for COVID-19. Please note that we are not required to provide this information by the health department or any other agency. The CDC and public health departments emphasize that a positive test result does not make River Valley Co-op a higher risk environment than other public spaces. We are providing this information because, as co-op owners, we know you care about our staff and how we are making our co-op operations as safe as possible for everyone in our community. We hope the following information helps you understand the key details of importance to you on these issues. 

Out of respect for the employee's confidentiality, we will not share any employee information that will allow them to be identified. However, we can tell you that they last worked at the co-op on Wednesday, April 14, and are self-quarantining at home as recommended by their healthcare professional and will remain out of the workplace until recovered and meeting all required timelines and testing for eligibility to return to work. 

Upon learning of the result, we notified our local health department. We are following all recommended guidelines from public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and city, county, and state public health departments. 

We have identified and notified all staff members who may have been in close contact with the affected person. They will be self-quarantining at home to self-monitor for symptoms until meeting the health requirements, timelines and/or testing for eligibility to return to work. 

We've done extra cleaning and sanitation in the area of the store that the employee worked in. This is in addition to our ongoing regular daily sanitation routines and overnight cleaning procedures. We require face-coverings for all employees, as well as customers. Our ventilation system settings and equipment are designed to provide fresh air and filtration to help minimize the risks to both employees and customers inside the store. 

As part of our daily COVID-19 safety practices, we ask that any employee with known contact with a person that tested positive within the last 14 days or who exhibits symptoms to stay home, contact our HR department, and notify their physician as appropriate. We also require a quarantine period and/or testing for employees that travel before they can return to work. Our co-op has a generous sick leave and vacation policy. We are working with staff members on a case-by-case basis to ensure they have the support they need for required self-quarantine monitoring periods or any illness.

Our co-op prides itself on its cleanliness, social distancing, and safety standards, and we are taking multiple steps to serve your needs, care for our staff, and be a responsible member of our community. Here is an overview:

  • All staff members verify they meet all the COVID-19 safety work eligibility requirements daily.
  • All staff self-monitor themselves throughout the day and stay/go home if sick
  • All employees and customers are required to wear face coverings as well as washing or sanitizing hands.
  • All employees and customers are asked to maintain 6-foot social distancing from others, and Plexi-barriers are installed where 6-foot social distance is not possible and interactions between people may extend to several minutes at a time. 
  • Our HVAC system equipment and settings are designed to provide ample fresh air and specialized filtration to help minimize risks to both employees and customers inside the store.
  • All common areas such as offices, bathrooms, and shared electronic equipment are disinfected and cleaned routinely every day.
  • All high touch surfaces such as grocery carts and hand baskets and door handles are disinfected routinely throughout the day.

We are very grateful that more and more community members (now also including grocery workers) are gaining access to vaccines to help limit the risks and spread of COVID. Everyone's ongoing support meeting our safety requirements while shopping and working at the co-op, as well as mindfulness of safety in other activities is highly appreciated! This widespread community attention to safety helps us all to support each other through this ongoing challenging time. We also want to appreciate our local health department for their dedication to prioritizing high safety standards, often exceeding the state requirements on key issues.

We are also grateful to our employees for keeping the store going every day and remaining focused on our mission of supporting local farmers and food producers, and providing fresh, healthy food for our community. In addition to regular shopping services, our co-op staff has developed an online ordering program for either curbside pick-up or delivery. We offer curbside pick-up service at no extra charge to help support our community's needs. We've been improving our system for this program and are now providing next-day pick-up for online orders. Click here for more information about our online services: http://rivervalley.coop/curbside-pickup.

This is the first time we've had to send you a notice of a positive COVID case in River Valley Co-op, which is a testament to the work of our employees and the support of customers to follow our safety guidelines. Thank you!

If you have any further questions, please contact us at info@rivervalley.coop

Thank you, everyone, for your ongoing support! 


With Gratitude,

Rochelle Prunty
General Manager

 


  

About the Coronavirus COVID-19

January 13, 2021 update:

We will continue with safety measures for the duration of the pandemic and adapt them as needed. With more people out and about, it is as important as ever to remain mindful of all the key COVID fighting measures―especially in public locations. State and local officials call for self-quarantining of all persons infected with COVID-19, however the reality is any one of us could have and spread the disease without knowing. Please follow the guidelines listed above to help protect yourself and others from potential unknown exposure while shopping at the co-op. For those with allergies or health conditions preventing them from meeting our COVID-19 shopping safety requirements, we also offer curbside pickup and delivery services. Please click here to access our online ordering system.

Click here for updates from the General Manager on the co-op's response to COVID-19 and more.

 

 

About the Coronavirus COVID-19

About the Coronavirus COVID-19

Updated June 11, 2020:

We will continue with safety measures for the duration of the pandemic and adapt them as needed. With more people out and about, it is as important as ever to remain mindful of all the key COVID fighting measures―especially in public locations. Of course state and local officials call for self-quarantine of all persons with COVID-19, however any of us could have and spread the disease without knowing. To help protect us all from unknown exposure while shopping at the co-op, we require that you either wash your hands with soap and water or use the hand sanitizer we provide in the front entryway. We also offer, but do not require, gloves as an added layer of protection. We do require that all store customers and staff wear a face covering. We have some face masks you can purchase if you don’t have your own. A bandana or scarf that consistently covers your nose and mouth is also fine. Note that you must keep whatever covering you use over your nose and mouth at all times while inside the store. The concept of all of us wearing face masks is that we protect each other by keeping our droplets to ourselves. We are now requiring customers unable to wear face masks due to health conditions to wear a complimentary face shield in combination with attention to social distancing for shopping in our store. This is a measure we’ve developed in consultation with the Department of Health for employees unable to wear face masks due to health reasons as well. The face shields are not as effective as the face masks, however they do help mitigate the risks in combination with social distancing. Special thanks to UMass for the donated face shields. For those with allergies or health conditions preventing them from meeting our COVID-19 shopping safety requirements, we are also offering a curbside pickup service.

Click here for the General Manager's latest update on the co-op's response to COVID-19 and more.

 

Updated May 14, 2020:



Many, many thanks for your patience and understanding these last few months! These times have been incredibly challenging for us all. 

To better serve our community, we are expanding our hours as of Monday, May 18th. Our doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all shoppers every day. Please remember that we are still reserving the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for seniors and shoppers with compromised immune systems. 

If it’s a physical hardship for you to stand for 10 or more minutes before entering the store let us know and we will give you priority.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we continue to make your safety our highest priority! As such, we are still requiring everyone entering the co-op to wear protective masks and gloves for the foreseeable future. 

 

May 3, 2020 update:

On Sunday, May 3, the co-op will be closed in honor of Heroic Staff Day! This special paid holiday for our staff is in gratitude for the heroic work they have been doing! While our employees didn’t start the year expecting to find themselves on the front lines of a world pandemic, that is what they have been doing every day as essential community services workers—and they have done a great job! 

Our employees kept the co-op going while the community was faced with the unprecedented widespread mandated shutdown of schools, businesses, and community events. Our employees kept the co-op going while our supply lines were thrown into chaos by the unprecedented demands on it. Our employees kept the co-op going every day since the COVID-19 crisis arrived in early March.

Please join us in thanking our staff for heroically rising to new challenges in their lives and work. This requires adaptation to a continual flow of unexpected practices, processes and tasks on a daily basis. We are grateful for the hard work keeping the co-op open, supporting our local vendors, and most importantly keeping each other, our customers and our community as safe as possible.

Our heroic staff is doing good work, important work—essential work—throughout this pandemic to serve our community. Thank you to all our employees for your hard work, commitment and many acts of kindness, care, generosity, courage, creativity, and teamwork! 

And a huge thank you to our customers for supporting the co-op and our staff by choosing to keep your grocery shopping local. We are grateful for your kind words of appreciation, and for supporting this well deserved staff holiday on Sunday, May 3rd!

In spite of the need for social distancing, in this crisis we have strengthened how we are all stronger together

Thank you!

 

April 16, 2020 update:

An important message to Co-op Owners and Customers:

Now at a time when we are all concerned about COVID-19, there is an email circulating that makes it sound like there is something new for us to worry about. This email references an ingredient in an EPA approved chemical used to disinfect our store to help protect our customers and staff. We contacted the Northampton Health Department immediately upon hearing of this and were reassured by the Director of the Department. 

The Co-op has been in contact with the Health Department on a regular basis throughout this crisis. We engaged a professional commercial disinfecting company in our efforts to make the store as safe as we can for everyone.

This disinfecting product helps to greatly mitigate the risk of the spread of infections from store surfaces and grocery carts. It has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4), making it ideal for our needs. It is widely used in hospitals, nursing homes and daycare centers. It is safe to apply in retail environments, including food stores. The Enviroshield system is also used to disinfect COVID-19 positive facilities.

In the concerning email, a person claimed they had a reaction to the disinfectant. They said it created a sticky and toxic coating on their glasses, clothing, and products they purchased. They also suggested adverse impacts for personal health and HVAC equipment function. We empathize with the person’s concern. It sounds alarming. However, we cannot find any basis for these claims. 

Operations management shut off the HVAC system prior to the application of the disinfectant. Afterward, they inspected the store thoroughly. There was no stickiness on any surfaces. No staff members or other customers reported any stickiness on clothing, glasses, products, keyboards, counters, shelves, door handles, etc. 

The professional cleaning company that disinfected the store did so using all the same protocols and product guidelines as they have done for many other clients. This product does not off-gas any materials.

These are scary times. We are working hard every day, putting in very long hours to keep our Co-op safe and to provide you and your family with the necessary goods you need. Our team is doing extraordinary work. We feel bad that these unfounded claims have caused any concerns at a time when we are all working together to meet the real challenges of this health crisis.

Please, be safe and stay healthy.

For more information, see the following statement from JanPro, the company that we worked with.

The health and safety of our customers is our top concern. With that in mind, we are proactively taking extraordinary measures by applying advanced, non-toxic products, including the use of the EnviroShield system. This system includes cleaning and disinfecting processes followed by the application of Endure. The Endure system uses an EPA approved chemical that has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4) as do the other disinfecting products used in the EnviroShield system. Each of the products used in our EnviroShield system have been extensively tested and approved for use by the EPA in this application. The Endure product was applied several hours prior to the store being open to ensure that the treatment had settled, which typically occurs within thirty minutes. This product dries as a solid and does not “off-gas” any materials. Under these conditions, respiratory issues related to this product would not be expected. That said, many people can be sensitive to other disinfecting chemicals, including alcohols, sanitizers, or other cleaners used in this or other locations. If you would like additional information about EnviroShield and the products we use we’re happy to send you a follow-up message. Please contact us at adam.wilson@jan-pro.com Thank you.

April 15, 2020 update:

FACE MASKS ARE NOW REQUIRED

The Co-op has taken great care to monitor the evolving situation with COVID-19. We’ve adapted to the needs of our community while ensuring our in-store policies comply with any adjustments or additions to safety recommendations being put forward by local health officials. One such change concerns the use of face masks by our staff and customers.

Starting Thursday, April 16, shoppers and employees will be required to wear face coverings at all times on Co-op property. Under a new mandate from the Northampton Board of Health, anyone who visits or works at an essential business must shield their nose and mouth securely with a mask or cloth covering while on the premises. Some examples of acceptable coverings include, but are not limited to face masks, scarves, bandanas and turtlenecks. The key is that both your mouth and nose are covered.

Here is a link from CDC on Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 

April 7, 2020 update:

We are re-launching our curbside pick-up service.

Consider this a soft opening! We appreciate your patience as we put in a very basic low tech system.

Please Note:
We are experiencing a high level of orders so at the point we are looking at 3-4 days before we get back you with a follow-up call!

Who can use this service?

Right now, anyone in the community with a compromised immune system, including people over 60 years old.

If I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, can I use this service?

You can certainly place an order, but we ask that you please have someone else come pick-up. According to local, state and federal health officials, people with COVID-19 should be quarantined, which means you should not be outside and interacting with others.

We also respectfully ask that if you are experiencing symptoms, for the health of our staff, you have someone else come pick up your groceries.

How do I order?

You can either click on the link below, which will take you to a Google Form you can fill out (this is the easiest for us!) or you can call the store at 413-584-2665, extension 315, or ask to be transferred to Curbside Pick Up.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfSrB7lKcvtuV6qz0_drwBlcG46IXyD3tQFjCjTT95dZ8-yWA/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

Can I order Prepared Foods Items?

Yes! Here is a link to our Prepared Foods Curbside Menu.

How many items can I order?

We are asking that you order at least 5 items and no more than 25 items. 

If I forget to list something, can I call and add it?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.  You can submit another order, though!

Can I order beer or wine?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.

How do I pay for my order?

When you come to pick it up, we can accept credit, debit, ebt, check or cash. We’ll pick up your payment curbside.

When will you open this service up to anyone in the community?

As soon as we get staffed up and iron out the wrinkles. This is a new way of working for us, and we appreciate your patience. We will communicate on our website, the e-news and social media if and when we are ready!

How do I sign up for the e-news?

Please visit our home page and enter your email at the bottom of the webpage http://rivervalley.coop

 

As of Wednesday, March 25th, we are asking our community to avoid bringing their reusable bags to the store until the coronavirus threat has subsided.

Groceries will be packed in paper bags (with no charge) or boxes (if available) provided by the co-op. 

Do you want to avoid single-use bags? You can place your groceries back in the cart as you check out, then transfer everything to your own bag when you return to your car.

New Changes to our Return Policy

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 and our inability to monitor products that have left our stores, we are declining all returns (including refunds, store credits and product exchanges) for the safety of our customers and staff.

If any fresh product does not meet your standard, was spoiled or bad before its sell-by date, we will continue to replace it or issue a refund/credit. We are simply asking that you dispose of the product and only bring us the receipt.

We hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

March 20, 2020 update:

Attention co-op owners and community members,

Over the past week, River Valley Co-op has made several sweeping changes in our store out of concern for the health and safety of all shoppers and staff. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and we hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. As always, we will gladly welcome new ideas and feedback on our efforts at any time.

To recap where we currently stand in this evolving situation, here are the actions we've taken up to this point:

  • River Valley Co-op is open to everyone between 10 AM - 7 PM. We have reduced our store hours to accommodate our employee time-off needs, such as childcare relating to school closings, as well as other health and safety needs.

  • For our community members 60+ and/or with compromised immune systems, our store is open at 9 AM. No doctor's note or proof of age required. We trust you to support our most at-risk community members during this hour.

  • All co-op events, including owner appreciation days and our Easthampton store groundbreaking ceremony, are postponed. Reschedule dates have yet to be determined due to the nature of this pandemic.

  • Our Prepared Foods Department is now packaging the Hot Bar, Salad Bar and Soups in ready-to-go containers. Our Self-Serve Hot Bar and Salad Bar are temporarily closed at this time.

  • On-site dining and customer seating is no longer available. 

  • All employees working with unpackaged foods, including fresh produce, are wearing gloves.

  • We are now prepackaging bulk foods and have eliminated our scoop and liquid bulk items to limit high-touch dispenser usage. Gloves will be provided to all customers who wish to access the gravity bins.

  • Our Buying Club and Bakery special orders are suspended until further notice.

  • Essential Community Service Compensation Plan for Staff
    Additional paid time-off available for all employees' needs related to COVID-19 issues including illnesses, childcare or other family health concerns. Increased compensation by $2 an hour worked for all store employees.

Our top priorities remain the well-being of our employees, providing for our customers' needs and economic security for our local vendors. We are grateful for your shopping support, which enables us to meet these goals. Thank you!

We have been working diligently to secure new sources for the food and cleaning products you need while keeping up with increased demand. Additionally, we are following the news surrounding COVID-19 very closely and will continue to educate ourselves and take additional steps, if necessary.
 

March 18, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community, the co-op will reserve the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for our community members with compromised immune systems. Regular hours will resume at 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
 
 

March 16, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community River Valley Co-op’s store hours have been temporarily adjusted to open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. until further notice.
 
This will accommodate extra staff time off needs, as well as working with later deliveries and allowing staff the time needed to clean and restock for you.
 
While some items are in short supply, we are receiving daily deliveries from a wide range of vendors to keep the store as well-stocked as possible.
We are grateful for your support of the co-op and our vendors, many of which are local.

Effective Immediately:

  • Prepared Foods is packaging out the Hot Bar and Salad Bar along with the soups as ready to go meals that will be available prepackaged in our grab and go cases. Our Self Service Coffee has been moved to be a counter service to minimize frequent customer touchpoints.
  • In Produce, all employees that handle unpackaged fruits and vegetables will wear gloves.  As well as removing tongs and pre-packing mushrooms, salad mix and green beans.

  • There will be no Customer in-store or deck dining or seats available.
  • We have eliminated scoop and tong self- service bulk options. Co-op customers will still access the gravity bins and gloves will be provided All scoop and tong accessed bulk items will be pre-packaged to the extent that we are able to do so. Liquid bulk items will be unavailable at this time to help limit high touch dispenser use in the store.

The current news about the coronavirus COVID-19 has dominated much of the news cycle over the last few weeks. We are closely monitoring the situation and taking extra precautions for the health of our shoppers and staff.

Our top priorities are our employees' well-being, serving our customers/community needs, and our local vendors' economic security. We really appreciate that our community is turning to us for support with securing the products you need at this time. This, in turn, supports our co-op and our staff. The grocery industry supply chain is having a hard time keeping up with the unanticipated nationwide increased demands for groceries and cleaning supplies. Our staff have been working hard to develop alternative sources for the products you want and working to educate ourselves and step up virus prevention measures throughout the store to help minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

We have been following reports from the MA Department of Health, World Health Organization, and CDC, as well as participating in special educational webinars to learn more about recommendations for employers and the food industry. The good news is we already have many food health and safety measures in place. We have taken steps to educate our staff about this virus, focused on minimizing the potential spread of virus within the store by increasing employee handwashing requirements and use of sanitizer as well as the level and frequency of sanitizing and cleaning high touch surfaces. We are also putting proactive contingency plans in place to prepare to respond further as needed. The Governor's March 10th state of emergency declaration to help bring more support and resources to the state may result in better information and guidance for all of us.

Stay tuned to this page for regular updates.

**Last Updated 5/14/20**

 

 

About the Coronavirus COVID-19

Updated May 14, 2020:



Many, many thanks for your patience and understanding these last few months! These times have been incredibly challenging for us all. 

To better serve our community, we are expanding our hours as of Monday, May 18th. Our doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all shoppers every day. Please remember that we are still reserving the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for seniors and shoppers with compromised immune systems. 

If it’s a physical hardship for you to stand for 10 or more minutes before entering the store let us know and we will give you priority.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we continue to make your safety our highest priority! As such, we are still requiring everyone entering the co-op to wear protective masks and gloves for the foreseeable future. 

 

May 3, 2020 update:

On Sunday, May 3, the co-op will be closed in honor of Heroic Staff Day! This special paid holiday for our staff is in gratitude for the heroic work they have been doing! While our employees didn’t start the year expecting to find themselves on the front lines of a world pandemic, that is what they have been doing every day as essential community services workers—and they have done a great job! 

Our employees kept the co-op going while the community was faced with the unprecedented widespread mandated shutdown of schools, businesses, and community events. Our employees kept the co-op going while our supply lines were thrown into chaos by the unprecedented demands on it. Our employees kept the co-op going every day since the COVID-19 crisis arrived in early March.

Please join us in thanking our staff for heroically rising to new challenges in their lives and work. This requires adaptation to a continual flow of unexpected practices, processes and tasks on a daily basis. We are grateful for the hard work keeping the co-op open, supporting our local vendors, and most importantly keeping each other, our customers and our community as safe as possible.

Our heroic staff is doing good work, important work—essential work—throughout this pandemic to serve our community. Thank you to all our employees for your hard work, commitment and many acts of kindness, care, generosity, courage, creativity, and teamwork! 

And a huge thank you to our customers for supporting the co-op and our staff by choosing to keep your grocery shopping local. We are grateful for your kind words of appreciation, and for supporting this well deserved staff holiday on Sunday, May 3rd!

In spite of the need for social distancing, in this crisis we have strengthened how we are all stronger together

Thank you!

 

April 16, 2020 update:

An important message to Co-op Owners and Customers:

Now at a time when we are all concerned about COVID-19, there is an email circulating that makes it sound like there is something new for us to worry about. This email references an ingredient in an EPA approved chemical used to disinfect our store to help protect our customers and staff. We contacted the Northampton Health Department immediately upon hearing of this and were reassured by the Director of the Department. 

The Co-op has been in contact with the Health Department on a regular basis throughout this crisis. We engaged a professional commercial disinfecting company in our efforts to make the store as safe as we can for everyone.

This disinfecting product helps to greatly mitigate the risk of the spread of infections from store surfaces and grocery carts. It has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4), making it ideal for our needs. It is widely used in hospitals, nursing homes and daycare centers. It is safe to apply in retail environments, including food stores. The Enviroshield system is also used to disinfect COVID-19 positive facilities.

In the concerning email, a person claimed they had a reaction to the disinfectant. They said it created a sticky and toxic coating on their glasses, clothing, and products they purchased. They also suggested adverse impacts for personal health and HVAC equipment function. We empathize with the person’s concern. It sounds alarming. However, we cannot find any basis for these claims. 

Operations management shut off the HVAC system prior to the application of the disinfectant. Afterward, they inspected the store thoroughly. There was no stickiness on any surfaces. No staff members or other customers reported any stickiness on clothing, glasses, products, keyboards, counters, shelves, door handles, etc. 

The professional cleaning company that disinfected the store did so using all the same protocols and product guidelines as they have done for many other clients. This product does not off-gas any materials.

These are scary times. We are working hard every day, putting in very long hours to keep our Co-op safe and to provide you and your family with the necessary goods you need. Our team is doing extraordinary work. We feel bad that these unfounded claims have caused any concerns at a time when we are all working together to meet the real challenges of this health crisis.

Please, be safe and stay healthy.

For more information, see the following statement from JanPro, the company that we worked with.

The health and safety of our customers is our top concern. With that in mind, we are proactively taking extraordinary measures by applying advanced, non-toxic products, including the use of the EnviroShield system. This system includes cleaning and disinfecting processes followed by the application of Endure. The Endure system uses an EPA approved chemical that has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4) as do the other disinfecting products used in the EnviroShield system. Each of the products used in our EnviroShield system have been extensively tested and approved for use by the EPA in this application. The Endure product was applied several hours prior to the store being open to ensure that the treatment had settled, which typically occurs within thirty minutes. This product dries as a solid and does not “off-gas” any materials. Under these conditions, respiratory issues related to this product would not be expected. That said, many people can be sensitive to other disinfecting chemicals, including alcohols, sanitizers, or other cleaners used in this or other locations. If you would like additional information about EnviroShield and the products we use we’re happy to send you a follow-up message. Please contact us at adam.wilson@jan-pro.com Thank you.

April 15, 2020 update:

FACE MASKS ARE NOW REQUIRED

The Co-op has taken great care to monitor the evolving situation with COVID-19. We’ve adapted to the needs of our community while ensuring our in-store policies comply with any adjustments or additions to safety recommendations being put forward by local health officials. One such change concerns the use of face masks by our staff and customers.

Starting Thursday, April 16, shoppers and employees will be required to wear face coverings at all times on Co-op property. Under a new mandate from the Northampton Board of Health, anyone who visits or works at an essential business must shield their nose and mouth securely with a mask or cloth covering while on the premises. Some examples of acceptable coverings include, but are not limited to face masks, scarves, bandanas and turtlenecks. The key is that both your mouth and nose are covered.

Here is a link from CDC on Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 

April 7, 2020 update:

We are re-launching our curbside pick-up service.

Consider this a soft opening! We appreciate your patience as we put in a very basic low tech system.

Please Note:
We are experiencing a high level of orders so at the point we are looking at 3-4 days before we get back you with a follow-up call!

Who can use this service?

Right now, anyone in the community with a compromised immune system, including people over 60 years old.

If I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, can I use this service?

You can certainly place an order, but we ask that you please have someone else come pick-up. According to local, state and federal health officials, people with COVID-19 should be quarantined, which means you should not be outside and interacting with others.

We also respectfully ask that if you are experiencing symptoms, for the health of our staff, you have someone else come pick up your groceries.

How do I order?

You can either click on the link below, which will take you to a Google Form you can fill out (this is the easiest for us!) or you can call the store at 413-584-2665, extension 315, or ask to be transferred to Curbside Pick Up.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfSrB7lKcvtuV6qz0_drwBlcG46IXyD3tQFjCjTT95dZ8-yWA/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

Can I order Prepared Foods Items?

Yes! Here is a link to our Prepared Foods Curbside Menu.

How many items can I order?

We are asking that you order at least 5 items and no more than 25 items. 

If I forget to list something, can I call and add it?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.  You can submit another order, though!

Can I order beer or wine?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.

How do I pay for my order?

When you come to pick it up, we can accept credit, debit, ebt, check or cash. We’ll pick up your payment curbside.

When will you open this service up to anyone in the community?

As soon as we get staffed up and iron out the wrinkles. This is a new way of working for us, and we appreciate your patience. We will communicate on our website, the e-news and social media if and when we are ready!

How do I sign up for the e-news?

Please visit our home page and enter your email at the bottom of the webpage http://rivervalley.coop

 

As of Wednesday, March 25th, we are asking our community to avoid bringing their reusable bags to the store until the coronavirus threat has subsided.

Groceries will be packed in paper bags (with no charge) or boxes (if available) provided by the co-op. 

Do you want to avoid single-use bags? You can place your groceries back in the cart as you check out, then transfer everything to your own bag when you return to your car.

New Changes to our Return Policy

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 and our inability to monitor products that have left our stores, we are declining all returns (including refunds, store credits and product exchanges) for the safety of our customers and staff.

If any fresh product does not meet your standard, was spoiled or bad before its sell-by date, we will continue to replace it or issue a refund/credit. We are simply asking that you dispose of the product and only bring us the receipt.

We hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

March 20, 2020 update:

Attention co-op owners and community members,

Over the past week, River Valley Co-op has made several sweeping changes in our store out of concern for the health and safety of all shoppers and staff. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and we hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. As always, we will gladly welcome new ideas and feedback on our efforts at any time.

To recap where we currently stand in this evolving situation, here are the actions we've taken up to this point:

  • River Valley Co-op is open to everyone between 10 AM - 7 PM. We have reduced our store hours to accommodate our employee time-off needs, such as childcare relating to school closings, as well as other health and safety needs.

  • For our community members 60+ and/or with compromised immune systems, our store is open at 9 AM. No doctor's note or proof of age required. We trust you to support our most at-risk community members during this hour.

  • All co-op events, including owner appreciation days and our Easthampton store groundbreaking ceremony, are postponed. Reschedule dates have yet to be determined due to the nature of this pandemic.

  • Our Prepared Foods Department is now packaging the Hot Bar, Salad Bar and Soups in ready-to-go containers. Our Self-Serve Hot Bar and Salad Bar are temporarily closed at this time.

  • On-site dining and customer seating is no longer available. 

  • All employees working with unpackaged foods, including fresh produce, are wearing gloves.

  • We are now prepackaging bulk foods and have eliminated our scoop and liquid bulk items to limit high-touch dispenser usage. Gloves will be provided to all customers who wish to access the gravity bins.

  • Our Buying Club and Bakery special orders are suspended until further notice.

  • Essential Community Service Compensation Plan for Staff
    Additional paid time-off available for all employees' needs related to COVID-19 issues including illnesses, childcare or other family health concerns. Increased compensation by $2 an hour worked for all store employees.

Our top priorities remain the well-being of our employees, providing for our customers' needs and economic security for our local vendors. We are grateful for your shopping support, which enables us to meet these goals. Thank you!

We have been working diligently to secure new sources for the food and cleaning products you need while keeping up with increased demand. Additionally, we are following the news surrounding COVID-19 very closely and will continue to educate ourselves and take additional steps, if necessary.
 

March 18, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community, the co-op will reserve the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for our community members with compromised immune systems. Regular hours will resume at 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
 
 

March 16, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community River Valley Co-op’s store hours have been temporarily adjusted to open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. until further notice.
 
This will accommodate extra staff time off needs, as well as working with later deliveries and allowing staff the time needed to clean and restock for you.
 
While some items are in short supply, we are receiving daily deliveries from a wide range of vendors to keep the store as well-stocked as possible.
We are grateful for your support of the co-op and our vendors, many of which are local.

Effective Immediately:

  • Prepared Foods is packaging out the Hot Bar and Salad Bar along with the soups as ready to go meals that will be available prepackaged in our grab and go cases. Our Self Service Coffee has been moved to be a counter service to minimize frequent customer touchpoints.
  • In Produce, all employees that handle unpackaged fruits and vegetables will wear gloves.  As well as removing tongs and pre-packing mushrooms, salad mix and green beans.

  • There will be no Customer in-store or deck dining or seats available.
  • We have eliminated scoop and tong self- service bulk options. Co-op customers will still access the gravity bins and gloves will be provided All scoop and tong accessed bulk items will be pre-packaged to the extent that we are able to do so. Liquid bulk items will be unavailable at this time to help limit high touch dispenser use in the store.

The current news about the coronavirus COVID-19 has dominated much of the news cycle over the last few weeks. We are closely monitoring the situation and taking extra precautions for the health of our shoppers and staff.

Our top priorities are our employees' well-being, serving our customers/community needs, and our local vendors' economic security. We really appreciate that our community is turning to us for support with securing the products you need at this time. This, in turn, supports our co-op and our staff. The grocery industry supply chain is having a hard time keeping up with the unanticipated nationwide increased demands for groceries and cleaning supplies. Our staff have been working hard to develop alternative sources for the products you want and working to educate ourselves and step up virus prevention measures throughout the store to help minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

We have been following reports from the MA Department of Health, World Health Organization, and CDC, as well as participating in special educational webinars to learn more about recommendations for employers and the food industry. The good news is we already have many food health and safety measures in place. We have taken steps to educate our staff about this virus, focused on minimizing the potential spread of virus within the store by increasing employee handwashing requirements and use of sanitizer as well as the level and frequency of sanitizing and cleaning high touch surfaces. We are also putting proactive contingency plans in place to prepare to respond further as needed. The Governor's March 10th state of emergency declaration to help bring more support and resources to the state may result in better information and guidance for all of us.

Stay tuned to this page for regular updates.

**Last Updated 5/14/20**

 

 

About the Coronavirus COVID-19

Updated May 31, 2020:

Updated May 14, 2020:



Many, many thanks for your patience and understanding these last few months! These times have been incredibly challenging for us all. 

To better serve our community, we are expanding our hours as of Monday, May 18th. Our doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all shoppers every day. Please remember that we are still reserving the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for seniors and shoppers with compromised immune systems. 

If it’s a physical hardship for you to stand for 10 or more minutes before entering the store let us know and we will give you priority.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we continue to make your safety our highest priority! As such, we are still requiring everyone entering the co-op to wear protective masks and gloves for the foreseeable future. 

 

May 3, 2020 update:

On Sunday, May 3, the co-op will be closed in honor of Heroic Staff Day! This special paid holiday for our staff is in gratitude for the heroic work they have been doing! While our employees didn’t start the year expecting to find themselves on the front lines of a world pandemic, that is what they have been doing every day as essential community services workers—and they have done a great job! 

Our employees kept the co-op going while the community was faced with the unprecedented widespread mandated shutdown of schools, businesses, and community events. Our employees kept the co-op going while our supply lines were thrown into chaos by the unprecedented demands on it. Our employees kept the co-op going every day since the COVID-19 crisis arrived in early March.

Please join us in thanking our staff for heroically rising to new challenges in their lives and work. This requires adaptation to a continual flow of unexpected practices, processes and tasks on a daily basis. We are grateful for the hard work keeping the co-op open, supporting our local vendors, and most importantly keeping each other, our customers and our community as safe as possible.

Our heroic staff is doing good work, important work—essential work—throughout this pandemic to serve our community. Thank you to all our employees for your hard work, commitment and many acts of kindness, care, generosity, courage, creativity, and teamwork! 

And a huge thank you to our customers for supporting the co-op and our staff by choosing to keep your grocery shopping local. We are grateful for your kind words of appreciation, and for supporting this well deserved staff holiday on Sunday, May 3rd!

In spite of the need for social distancing, in this crisis we have strengthened how we are all stronger together

Thank you!

 

April 16, 2020 update:

An important message to Co-op Owners and Customers:

Now at a time when we are all concerned about COVID-19, there is an email circulating that makes it sound like there is something new for us to worry about. This email references an ingredient in an EPA approved chemical used to disinfect our store to help protect our customers and staff. We contacted the Northampton Health Department immediately upon hearing of this and were reassured by the Director of the Department. 

The Co-op has been in contact with the Health Department on a regular basis throughout this crisis. We engaged a professional commercial disinfecting company in our efforts to make the store as safe as we can for everyone.

This disinfecting product helps to greatly mitigate the risk of the spread of infections from store surfaces and grocery carts. It has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4), making it ideal for our needs. It is widely used in hospitals, nursing homes and daycare centers. It is safe to apply in retail environments, including food stores. The Enviroshield system is also used to disinfect COVID-19 positive facilities.

In the concerning email, a person claimed they had a reaction to the disinfectant. They said it created a sticky and toxic coating on their glasses, clothing, and products they purchased. They also suggested adverse impacts for personal health and HVAC equipment function. We empathize with the person’s concern. It sounds alarming. However, we cannot find any basis for these claims. 

Operations management shut off the HVAC system prior to the application of the disinfectant. Afterward, they inspected the store thoroughly. There was no stickiness on any surfaces. No staff members or other customers reported any stickiness on clothing, glasses, products, keyboards, counters, shelves, door handles, etc. 

The professional cleaning company that disinfected the store did so using all the same protocols and product guidelines as they have done for many other clients. This product does not off-gas any materials.

These are scary times. We are working hard every day, putting in very long hours to keep our Co-op safe and to provide you and your family with the necessary goods you need. Our team is doing extraordinary work. We feel bad that these unfounded claims have caused any concerns at a time when we are all working together to meet the real challenges of this health crisis.

Please, be safe and stay healthy.

For more information, see the following statement from JanPro, the company that we worked with.

The health and safety of our customers is our top concern. With that in mind, we are proactively taking extraordinary measures by applying advanced, non-toxic products, including the use of the EnviroShield system. This system includes cleaning and disinfecting processes followed by the application of Endure. The Endure system uses an EPA approved chemical that has the highest safety rating given by the EPA (category 4) as do the other disinfecting products used in the EnviroShield system. Each of the products used in our EnviroShield system have been extensively tested and approved for use by the EPA in this application. The Endure product was applied several hours prior to the store being open to ensure that the treatment had settled, which typically occurs within thirty minutes. This product dries as a solid and does not “off-gas” any materials. Under these conditions, respiratory issues related to this product would not be expected. That said, many people can be sensitive to other disinfecting chemicals, including alcohols, sanitizers, or other cleaners used in this or other locations. If you would like additional information about EnviroShield and the products we use we’re happy to send you a follow-up message. Please contact us at adam.wilson@jan-pro.com Thank you.

April 15, 2020 update:

FACE MASKS ARE NOW REQUIRED

The Co-op has taken great care to monitor the evolving situation with COVID-19. We’ve adapted to the needs of our community while ensuring our in-store policies comply with any adjustments or additions to safety recommendations being put forward by local health officials. One such change concerns the use of face masks by our staff and customers.

Starting Thursday, April 16, shoppers and employees will be required to wear face coverings at all times on Co-op property. Under a new mandate from the Northampton Board of Health, anyone who visits or works at an essential business must shield their nose and mouth securely with a mask or cloth covering while on the premises. Some examples of acceptable coverings include, but are not limited to face masks, scarves, bandanas and turtlenecks. The key is that both your mouth and nose are covered.

Here is a link from CDC on Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 

April 7, 2020 update:

We are re-launching our curbside pick-up service.

Consider this a soft opening! We appreciate your patience as we put in a very basic low tech system.

Please Note:
We are experiencing a high level of orders so at the point we are looking at 3-4 days before we get back you with a follow-up call!

Who can use this service?

Right now, anyone in the community with a compromised immune system, including people over 60 years old.

If I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, can I use this service?

You can certainly place an order, but we ask that you please have someone else come pick-up. According to local, state and federal health officials, people with COVID-19 should be quarantined, which means you should not be outside and interacting with others.

We also respectfully ask that if you are experiencing symptoms, for the health of our staff, you have someone else come pick up your groceries.

How do I order?

You can either click on the link below, which will take you to a Google Form you can fill out (this is the easiest for us!) or you can call the store at 413-584-2665, extension 315, or ask to be transferred to Curbside Pick Up.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfSrB7lKcvtuV6qz0_drwBlcG46IXyD3tQFjCjTT95dZ8-yWA/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

Can I order Prepared Foods Items?

Yes! Here is a link to our Prepared Foods Curbside Menu.

How many items can I order?

We are asking that you order at least 5 items and no more than 25 items. 

If I forget to list something, can I call and add it?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.  You can submit another order, though!

Can I order beer or wine?

So sorry, but at this time, the answer is no.

How do I pay for my order?

When you come to pick it up, we can accept credit, debit, ebt, check or cash. We’ll pick up your payment curbside.

When will you open this service up to anyone in the community?

As soon as we get staffed up and iron out the wrinkles. This is a new way of working for us, and we appreciate your patience. We will communicate on our website, the e-news and social media if and when we are ready!

How do I sign up for the e-news?

Please visit our home page and enter your email at the bottom of the webpage http://rivervalley.coop

 

As of Wednesday, March 25th, we are asking our community to avoid bringing their reusable bags to the store until the coronavirus threat has subsided.

Groceries will be packed in paper bags (with no charge) or boxes (if available) provided by the co-op. 

Do you want to avoid single-use bags? You can place your groceries back in the cart as you check out, then transfer everything to your own bag when you return to your car.

New Changes to our Return Policy

Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 and our inability to monitor products that have left our stores, we are declining all returns (including refunds, store credits and product exchanges) for the safety of our customers and staff.

If any fresh product does not meet your standard, was spoiled or bad before its sell-by date, we will continue to replace it or issue a refund/credit. We are simply asking that you dispose of the product and only bring us the receipt.

We hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

March 20, 2020 update:

Attention co-op owners and community members,

Over the past week, River Valley Co-op has made several sweeping changes in our store out of concern for the health and safety of all shoppers and staff. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and we hope the steps we've taken will continue to aid and benefit our community as we work together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. As always, we will gladly welcome new ideas and feedback on our efforts at any time.

To recap where we currently stand in this evolving situation, here are the actions we've taken up to this point:

  • River Valley Co-op is open to everyone between 10 AM - 7 PM. We have reduced our store hours to accommodate our employee time-off needs, such as childcare relating to school closings, as well as other health and safety needs.

  • For our community members 60+ and/or with compromised immune systems, our store is open at 9 AM. No doctor's note or proof of age required. We trust you to support our most at-risk community members during this hour.

  • All co-op events, including owner appreciation days and our Easthampton store groundbreaking ceremony, are postponed. Reschedule dates have yet to be determined due to the nature of this pandemic.

  • Our Prepared Foods Department is now packaging the Hot Bar, Salad Bar and Soups in ready-to-go containers. Our Self-Serve Hot Bar and Salad Bar are temporarily closed at this time.

  • On-site dining and customer seating is no longer available. 

  • All employees working with unpackaged foods, including fresh produce, are wearing gloves.

  • We are now prepackaging bulk foods and have eliminated our scoop and liquid bulk items to limit high-touch dispenser usage. Gloves will be provided to all customers who wish to access the gravity bins.

  • Our Buying Club and Bakery special orders are suspended until further notice.

  • Essential Community Service Compensation Plan for Staff
    Additional paid time-off available for all employees' needs related to COVID-19 issues including illnesses, childcare or other family health concerns. Increased compensation by $2 an hour worked for all store employees.

Our top priorities remain the well-being of our employees, providing for our customers' needs and economic security for our local vendors. We are grateful for your shopping support, which enables us to meet these goals. Thank you!

We have been working diligently to secure new sources for the food and cleaning products you need while keeping up with increased demand. Additionally, we are following the news surrounding COVID-19 very closely and will continue to educate ourselves and take additional steps, if necessary.
 

March 18, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community, the co-op will reserve the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour for our community members with compromised immune systems. Regular hours will resume at 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
 
 

March 16, 2020 update:

In an effort to better serve our community River Valley Co-op’s store hours have been temporarily adjusted to open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. until further notice.
 
This will accommodate extra staff time off needs, as well as working with later deliveries and allowing staff the time needed to clean and restock for you.
 
While some items are in short supply, we are receiving daily deliveries from a wide range of vendors to keep the store as well-stocked as possible.
We are grateful for your support of the co-op and our vendors, many of which are local.

Effective Immediately:

  • Prepared Foods is packaging out the Hot Bar and Salad Bar along with the soups as ready to go meals that will be available prepackaged in our grab and go cases. Our Self Service Coffee has been moved to be a counter service to minimize frequent customer touchpoints.
  • In Produce, all employees that handle unpackaged fruits and vegetables will wear gloves.  As well as removing tongs and pre-packing mushrooms, salad mix and green beans.

  • There will be no Customer in-store or deck dining or seats available.
  • We have eliminated scoop and tong self- service bulk options. Co-op customers will still access the gravity bins and gloves will be provided All scoop and tong accessed bulk items will be pre-packaged to the extent that we are able to do so. Liquid bulk items will be unavailable at this time to help limit high touch dispenser use in the store.

The current news about the coronavirus COVID-19 has dominated much of the news cycle over the last few weeks. We are closely monitoring the situation and taking extra precautions for the health of our shoppers and staff.

Our top priorities are our employees' well-being, serving our customers/community needs, and our local vendors' economic security. We really appreciate that our community is turning to us for support with securing the products you need at this time. This, in turn, supports our co-op and our staff. The grocery industry supply chain is having a hard time keeping up with the unanticipated nationwide increased demands for groceries and cleaning supplies. Our staff have been working hard to develop alternative sources for the products you want and working to educate ourselves and step up virus prevention measures throughout the store to help minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

We have been following reports from the MA Department of Health, World Health Organization, and CDC, as well as participating in special educational webinars to learn more about recommendations for employers and the food industry. The good news is we already have many food health and safety measures in place. We have taken steps to educate our staff about this virus, focused on minimizing the potential spread of virus within the store by increasing employee handwashing requirements and use of sanitizer as well as the level and frequency of sanitizing and cleaning high touch surfaces. We are also putting proactive contingency plans in place to prepare to respond further as needed. The Governor's March 10th state of emergency declaration to help bring more support and resources to the state may result in better information and guidance for all of us.

Stay tuned to this page for regular updates.

**Last Updated 5/14/20**

 

 

What Actually Happens If You Get Coronavirus?

 
We've found this video very helpful in understanding more about the virus and how it works. Somehow it seems comforting to know more and we found this video makes the information very accessible.
 

About the Cornonavirus COVID-19

The coronavirus COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that originated recently in Wuhan, China. The virus causes mild to severe respiratory illness. It is contagious and has led to fatalities in some severe cases. Individuals in higher risk categories with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop severe cases. It is transmitted through coughing and sneezing of infected individuals. At the present time, there is no vaccine, cure or specific treatment.

The good news is that most people that get the virus recover from it within a few weeks. However, the risk of severe illness is a serious community health matter. By taking responsibility as a local business and as individuals for doing what we can to disrupt the spread of this virus, we help support keeping everyone in our community safer.

 

About the Co-op’s Response

We have many procedures already in place to help protect the safety of our employees and customers—procedures we rely on to reduce the spread of foodborne illness and seasonal colds and flu every year. Learn more below.

Food Sampling and Educational Demonstrations

Out of an abundance of caution, we are discontinuing our Food Sampling and Educational Demonstrations at this time. 

Postponed Co-op Events

Due to growing concerns regarding the Coronavirus / COVID-19 and health risks related to public events, we are postponing Owner Appreciation Days, Groundbreaking Ceremony and Workshops until the COVID Virus threats subsides. While this decision comes at a time of uncertainty, our priority is the safety and health of our employees and the community. 

Supplies

We know you’re hearing stories about grocery stores running out of food, hand sanitizers, and household needs as consumers stock up on the essentials. One of our strengths is we source from multiple suppliers and don’t pull from a central warehouse. Therefore we have multiple avenues for securing products even when there are gaps in availability. However, the national supply chain was not prepared for this sudden increased demand and we too find ourselves short of certain products. As our staff work to secure alternative suppliers and products we appreciate your patience on temporary shortages of certain products.

Employee Benefits and Sick Time

More than 85 percent of co-op employees work full-time, with industry-leading benefits. This is in direct contrast to many large food retailers, which are staffed primarily by part-time employees without benefits. River Valley Co-op provides paid time off to our part time workers as well full time workers.

Why does this make a difference? Employees without benefits come to work sick. They can’t afford to stay home.

River Valley Co-op encourages sick employees to stay home to reduce the spread of illness and in cases when needed, we require it.

The Virus and Food

According to the Harvard Health Blog, it’s not clear if the virus can spread through food. Even if so, it would be highly unlikely. Regardless, health officials cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission from infected food handlers.

Food Safety at the Co-op

Our employees must follow a strict set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) when handling and producing food. SOPs include detailed directives on hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers, controlling temperature and time for specific foods like plant and animal proteins and information on preventing foodborne illness and the spread of infection.

Staff in our Meat, Seafood, Cheese and Prepared Foods department receive ServSafe® Food Handler training, and our managers and other key employees are ServSafe® certified in active managerial control. ServSafe® is a highly regarded food-safety training program administered by the U.S. National Restaurant Association. 

Liesel, our Store Manager, is a ServSafe® certified instructor.  No employee works in the co-op's prepared foods or fresh departments without training on how to handle the products properly and safely.

Work with Us

We ask all of our customers and employees to partner with us in this. No matter how many food-safety and virus protection protocols we may have in place, we can't effectively do this alone. We need your support to help fight the spread of this virus as well. WHO has great advice here on how to be responsible in order to protect yourself—and by extension your community—from the virus.

How Can I Protect Myself

Because there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to this virus as much as possible. Most people that get the virus will recover within a few weeks.The risk of severe cases is higher for those with compromised immune systems and the elderly. By protecting ourselves as much as possible we are helping protect everyone in our community and workplace.

To review some key ways to protect yourself include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing the soap in for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Refrain from handshakes and high fives, try an elbow bump instead or wave.
  • Exercise good hygiene.
  • Limit activities that could lead to potential exposure.
  • Use good nutrition to keep your immune system strong as well as getting rest and exercise.

Trustworthy Resources

The internet is full of misinformation, and social media channels thrive on hyperbolic language. One of the best things you can do is to stay informed with accurate information. We suggest the following, recommended by Harvard Medical School:

For regular news, trust sources with deep, award-winning health reporting. We suggest:

Additional sources of information are available here:

Learn More

More thoughts or questions? Reach out anytime. Call us at (413) 584-2665 or email askursula@rivervalley.coop