April 6, 2020
Update on Seward Co-op’s response to COVID-19
Dear Seward Co-op Community,
Thank you so much for your support and well wishes as we work hard to remain open and provide food and wellness resources for our community during this time of crisis. I am writing again on behalf of all of us at Seward Community Co-op with an update about the impact of COVID-19 on our community and store operations. We will continue to send these communications two times per week on Mondays and Thursdays, with critical updates as needed.
Curbside Pickup Coming Tomorrow, April 7
Beginning tomorrow, April 7, Seward Co-op will begin Curbside Pickup. This online ordering program will be available at both of our stores. Curbside Pickup is designed to serve members of our community who are most at risk, including those who are first responders, folks over 60 years old, and those with compromised immune systems. Once we perfect logistics, we will make it more broadly available.
If you qualify, you will be able to select top-selling products from an online catalogue, available on seward.coop the morning of Tuesday April 7 when the program goes live. If desired products are not in the catalogue, you may make special requests for specific items using the comment box at the end of the order. We are unable to accept orders over the phone. Once Seward Co-op receives your order, an employee will pick the items ordered. The employee will call you and take final payment via credit card over the phone. (The total cost can only be determined after the employee picks the order, because items like produce need to be weighed.) We will charge a $6 service fee. The order will be available for pick up during the “pickup window” you select. Pick up an order at the Franklin store from designated parking spots on 29thAve. Pick up an order at the Friendship store from designated parking spots on 38th St. An employee will deliver the order to your car.
We are excited to support our community in this new way. Please note that there are some limitations. We are legally unable to accept payment over the phone via government food access programs including SNAP/EBT and WIC. In addition, the pandemic has strained the co-op’s supply chain. We may be unable to provide all ordered products at the time of purchase.
Seward Co-op has worked quickly to build the tools to support this new program. We are excited to launch Curbside Pickup. We will work quickly to expand it in the future to meet more needs in our community. As we roll it out, there will likely be some glitches. Please be patient and respect the co-op’s decision to begin with orders from first responders, folks over 60 years old, and those with compromised immune systems.
Virtual CSA Fair April 20-30
Our 19th Annual Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair is going virtual! From April 20 -30, we will feature over 20 local farms that provide our community with amazing food throughout the growing season. Follow us on social media to learn about each of the farms and their CSA shares through videos and Q&A sessions.
During this time of crisis and supply chain disruption, we need community farmers, fishers and producers more than ever. Invest in the people who grow and harvest our food. In addition to shopping at the co-op, Community Supported Agriculture offers individuals and families a direct way to support local growers, and our virtual CSA Fair will provide all the information to pick a share that is best for you and your household.
We want to hear from you–what questions would you ask CSA growers? Send them along to email@example.com by the end of the day today, Monday, April 6, and you might see a farmer answer your questions!
Help Us Make Protective Masks for Our Community
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened their guidelines on what types of Personal Protective Equipment can be used in care settings. Cloth masks are now allowed for use in care facilities. Hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics across the nation are desperately seeking volunteers to make cloth masks, and Twin Cities Food Justice (TCFJ) is partnering with Seward Co-op to contribute to the cause and help healthcare workers in our community stay safe. Last week, TCFJ placed bins in each of our stores to collect mask-making materials and completed masks.
Requests for donated materials include but are not limited to: 100% cotton fabric, flannel fabric, elastic, ribbon, and bias tape. As the project moves forward, TCFJ will bring a second bin to collect the completed masks and will distribute to healthcare facilities as well as to Seward Co-op staff who request a mask. TCFJ will be delivering to healthcare facilities who have specifically requested cloth masks and will be providing instructions to our staff on safe use, sanitation and care of the masks.
Financial Update: Application Submitted for Payroll Protection Program Loan
Last week, board and management co-hosted a community listening session with updates about store operations, co-op finances and recent board decisions. Click here to view the video. In our update last Thursday, we included a call to action regarding cooperatives and the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal small business relief program recently passed by Congress. On Friday, we received news that cooperatives are eligible to apply; we submitted Seward Co-op’s application the same day and are awaiting the results.
I know many of you are concerned about the financial condition of the co-op. The temporary closure of the Franklin store and the longer-term closure of the Creamery Café has had material impacts on our business. Sales have been much lower than prior to closing those business units. And our costs have not gone down. As a community co-op, we have chosen to keep our staff employed as long as we can. We are monitoring our current cash position daily. We will do our best to keep you up to date in these communications, Our highest priority right now is to seek federal and state funding available to businesses in this crisis to maintain employment for all who wish to work at the co-op. We appreciate the personal risk that our staff are taking to provide the critical service of feeding our community. They deserve our support.
Consider Investing in Seward Co-op
You can also help by investing in Seward Co-op if you have the means. Please consider purchasing C stock in our co-op. Each share is $500 and strengthens the equity position of the co-op. We also are accepting owner loans with a minimum of $5,000 for two or five year terms. Depending on size and term, rates range from 3% to 5.5%. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
April SEED Preemption for COVID-19 Emergency Response: Mobile Outreach Outdoor Drop-In
To respond to community needs during the COVID-19 crisis, we have an emergency SEED preemption for the month of April. For at least the first two weeks of April, we will round-up for Mobile Outreach Outdoor Drop-In (MOODI), a collaboration between Cultural Wellness Center and Southside Harm Reduction, along with community volunteers, health, and homeless outreach workers. Mobile Outreach Outdoor Drop-In offers hospitality, community care, nursing and outreach services daily between 1–3 p.m. at Peavey Park, near Franklin and Chicago Avenues. Recipients are individuals and families experiencing homelessness and/or insecure housing during this time of crisis and “stay at home.” Read more about this effort and donate online here. Thank you, co-op shoppers, choosing to round up in April for MOODI.
We are proud of our response and ability to be resilient thus far. We know we can get through this together and we ask for the support of the entire cooperative community. Please choose to do your grocery shopping with Seward Co-op; consider a loan or C stock investment; and most importantly, please thank our staff when you see them. Be patient and kind with one another. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support.
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