Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 and Seward Co-op’s Response

Staying Connected on Updates

How can I receive email updates?

Please sign up to receive our email...

Please sign up to receive our email updates here.

During the closure, I called an left a message at Franklin – why haven’t I heard back?

If you called while the Franklin store...

If you called while the Franklin store was closed and a left voice message, please call again. We do not have staffing to return those calls at this time. You can call today as calls placed to all Seward locations are being answered more consistently.

Seward Co-op Response to COVID-19 & Updates on Store Operations

Is the Franklin and Friendship store open? What about the Creamery Café?

Both the Franklin and Friendship stores are now open daily from 9 a.m.-9 p.m....

Both the Franklin and Friendship stores are now open daily from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. The opening hour – 9 to 10 a.m. – each day is reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems.

Seward Co-op Creamery Cafe will remain closed, per Governor Walz’s executive order.

How was the Franklin store disinfected and cleaned? What cleaning solutions were used?

The entire Franklin store building was cleaned and disinfected by a specialized cleaning service. They disinfected and cleaned...

The entire Franklin store building was cleaned and disinfected by a specialized cleaning service. They disinfected and cleaned all commonly touched surfaces three times. Special attention was given to the Wellness department, all carts and baskets, cashier checkout lanes, door handles (including coolers), bathrooms, dining area tables and chairs, employee breakroom areas, meeting spaces, and food production areas.

The cleaning service used an EPA-approved disinfectant for use on Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in food handling and food processing areas. The product was designed to provide effective cleaning, deodorizing, and disinfection for hospitals, nursing homes, households, homes, private residences, schools, food processing plants, and food service establishments. Unfortunately, the cleaning solution used by the specialist cleaning service is proprietary and we cannot disclose the name including its ingredients.

Will Seward Co-op be providing special accommodations for people in our community who are high risk?

We have temporarily changed our hours of operation at the Friendship store from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice...

We have temporarily changed our hours of operation at the Friendship store from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice to help ensure the well-being of our staff and replenishment of products.

At this time, we are asking our community and shoppers to respect our request for the opening hour – 9 to 10 a.m. – each day be reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems. Our intent is to provide an opportunity for those individuals to be the first to shop after overnight cleaning and stocking, so they have increased access to essential products.

What are the preventative measures that Seward Co-op will be taking to ensure the co-op is helping to protect the health and safety of the community?

Click to see an updated list of operational changes we have made...

Operational changes effective 4/7:

  • Beginning 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.

Operational changes effective 3/30:

  • Our grocery department is working hard to find new options for making these products available safely. This week, you will notice more pre-packed items in the bulk bins that previously required scoops.

Operational changes effective 3/26:

  • In appreciation of the hard work and dedication staff has shown during this unprecedented public health crisis, Seward Co-op is paying a $2 per hour bonus for all hours worked, beginning Monday, March 9. The bonus period will continue until Sunday, April 12.
  • The Tuesday, March 31 meeting of Seward Co-op’s Board of Directors will be held remotely and entirely in executive session. This is due to the co-op’s priority of practicing social distancing, and the board’s need to learn about and discuss impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our cooperative business

Operational changes effective 3/21:

  • The MN Department of Health provided a “green light” for the Franklin store to reopen. We re-opened our doors Saturday, March 21, at 9 a.m. Moving forward, both stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The opening hour – 9 to 10 a.m. – each day is reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems.
  • We are also suspending all special orders, due to product unpredictability and unavailability.

Operational changes effective 3/20:

  • We have laid out colored tape in our checkout lanes to serve as markers to maintain a social distance between you, staff and other community members while you checkout.

Operational changes effective 3/19:

  • We suspended all special orders, due to product unpredictability and unavailability.

Operational changes effective 3/18:

  • We discontinued self-service coffee, salad bar and hot bar.
  • We discontinued selling bulk items out of bins that require scoops.
  • We posted educational social distancing signage in our stores in an effort to preserve the health and safety of staff and community members.

Operational changes effective 3/17:

  • We limited the capacity of shoppers in the Friendship store at one time. This number has changed with guidance from the CDC and at the discretion of staff to adjust for safety and operational efficiency.
  • We reserved shopping for immunocompromised shoppers and those 60 years old or older during the first hour of operation. This effort offers the safest access to the store for these individuals. We implemented social distancing practices.

Operational changes effective 3/16:

  • Out of an abundance of caution, we made the difficult decision to close the Creamery Café before the executive order from Governor Walz went into effect.

Operational changes effective 3/15:

  • We temporarily closed the Franklin store for cleaning upon learning an employee had contracted the COVID-19.
How can I practice social distancing while shopping at Seward Co-op?

Social distancing is not just for you, it’s also out of consideration for fellow community members...

Social distancing is not just for you, it’s also out of consideration for fellow community members. While in our store, please be extremely aware of other customers and co-op employees, and maintain approximately six feet of space between individuals.


When you arrive at the check-out lane, you will notice yellow lines and a red box:

1. Please do not stand in the red box at the cash register in order to maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and the cashier.

2. While waiting in line, please stand behind the yellow lines on the floor in order to maintain a safe distance with fellow community members.

Our employees–especially the cashiers and other workers on the sales floor–are working hard to support the community during this time of crisis and uncertainty. Working in a public space during a pandemic is very stressful for our staff. Please minimize behavior that may increase the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing in our stores, and in other public spaces. Again, we are so grateful for our staff and the kindness and compassion of our community.

Are you going to continue to provide food in your hot bar and salad bar? What about self-serve coffee?

All products that are sold will be wrapped or packaged. We are no longer serving...

All products that are sold will be wrapped or packaged. We are no longer serving food on our hot and salad bars. We are no longer offering bulk items that require a scoop. Bulk items in gravity bins are still available. We also have discontinued providing self-serve coffee until further notice.

Are you going to continue selling bulk product?

We are going to continue to selling bulk products, only if it is in a gravity bin...

We continue to selling bulk products that are in a gravity bin that does not require scoops. Earlier in March, we discontinued selling bulk items out of bins that require scoops. Our grocery department is working hard to find new options for making these products available safely. This week, you will notice more pre-packed items in the bulk bins that previously required scoops.

We are also suspending all special orders, due to product unpredictability and unavailability.

Is your seating area still open?

To minimize social contact we have closed all dining areas in our stores.

To minimize social contact we have closed all dining areas in our stores.

Does Seward Co-op offer options for online ordering or pickup service?

Beginning April 7, Seward Co-op will begin Curbside Pickup. Curbside Pickup is designed to serve members of our community who are most at risk...

Beginning 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. 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.

Supporting  Health and Wellness of Our Community and Staff

What does social distancing mean? How can I practice social distancing while shopping at Seward Co-op?

We all need to do our part to provide a safe workplace and shopping experience...

Grocery stores provide a critical function in our community during a time of crisis, and we are committed to remaining open. This means that we all need to do our part to provide a safe workplace and shopping experience for co-op employees and customers. Our priority is the well-being of employees and community members. Please help minimize behavior that may increase the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing in our stores and other public spaces. If you are sick or have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath), please do not visit our stores. Please shop alone, rather than with a partner or family.

It is recommended that people stay at least 6 feet apart in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission. We all need to learn this new skill together. Try to proactively communicate with people who are in the space you want to be in, rather than just going near them. For example, if an employee is stocking groceries near a product you are seeking, please alert the staff of your needs and allow time for the employee to move away.  When in line, try not to crowd, instead allow ample space between yourself and the next person in line.  

Social distancing is not just for you, it’s also out of consideration for fellow community members. While in our store, please be extremely aware of other customers and co-op employees, and maintain approximately six feet of space between individuals.


When you arrive at the check-out lane, you will notice yellow lines and a red box:

1. Please do not stand in the red box at the cash register in order to maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and the cashier.

2. While waiting in line, please stand behind the yellow lines on the floor in order to maintain a safe distance with fellow community members.

Our employees–especially the cashiers and other workers on the sales floor–are working hard to support the community during this time of crisis and uncertainty. Working in a public space during a pandemic is very stressful for our staff. Please minimize behavior that may increase the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing in our stores, and in other public spaces. Again, we are so grateful for our staff and the kindness and compassion of our community.

Will Seward Co-op be providing special accommodations for people in our community who are high risk?

We have temporarily changed our hours of operation...

We have temporarily changed our hours of operation at the Friendship store from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice to help ensure the well-being of our staff and replenishment of products.

At this time, we are asking our community and shoppers to respect our request for the opening hour – 9 to 10 a.m. – each day be reserved for shoppers who are at a higher risk of severe illness by COVID-19, which includes older adults and those who have compromised immune systems. Our intent is to provide an opportunity for those individuals to be the first to shop after overnight cleaning and stocking, so they have increased access to essential products.

Why are staff working with face masks?

The health and safety of co-op staff and customers...

The health and safety of co-op staff and customers is our highest priority and we’re doing everything we can to maintain our collective health, while being an essential resource to our community. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with symptoms, or if you have symptoms. We have asked staff exhibiting symptoms of the illness to stay home, and to consult their healthcare provider for treatment directions, including being tested for COVID-19 and/or implementing self-quarantine. Some co-op staff want to wear masks or bandanas even if they feel well. We have told them they are welcome to do so.

What should I do if I feel that I may have been in contact with the staff person that has tested positive for COVID-19?

We encourage you to seek advice of your healthcare professional...

We encourage you to seek advice of your healthcare professional. Steps you may consider taking include social distancing and self-quarantining.

Where can I find advice from healthcare professionals?

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)...

Will all Seward Co-op staff be tested for COVID-19?

Tests have been in limited supply and are being prioritized by health officials accordingly...

Tests have been in limited supply and are being prioritized by health officials accordingly. A number of our employees, have called in sick reporting symptoms that include one of the four symptoms of illness. These are sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and fever. We are aware that at least seven employees have been tested with the one positive result that we have shared publicly. We are required as a food business to track illnesses and have been working with staff to keep our sick logs up to date. Although grocery store workers are considered first responders, we are classified as tier two and thus do not have priority access to testing and protective gear. We continue work to line up access to these tests.

Are there any other staff members that are confirmed to have COVID-19?

We are aware that a number of our employees have been tested...

We are aware that a number of our employees have been tested with the one positive result that we have shared publicly.

As of March 23, we are pleased to report that we have received additional negative test results from our employees. So far of the nine employees who have been tested, we have received six negative test results and are awaiting the results from two additional tests.

We had 39 staff members who have called in sick since March 16. Seventeen of these employees have been asked by a medical professional to not come to work and self-quarantine. Twenty-two employees have called off for other reasons. We continue to ask staff members and the public to stay home if they feel unwell or exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19.

What is being done for the employees that have had close contact with the person that tested positive for COVID-19?

All employees who were in close contact with the affected employee...

All employees who were in close contact with the affected employee have been contacted. We are tracking any symptoms that employees exhibit, asking people to self-quarantine if advised by their medical professional and to ask to be tested if they show symptoms.

What is happening to staff who are not working because of the Creamery Café, administrative offices and Franklin store closures?

All employees who have missed hours due to business closure last week...

All employees who have missed hours due to business closure last week will be paid for their scheduled time. We have now called employees back to work. We are very proud to report that, despite the closure of the Creamery Cafe, we have not had to lay off any employees. We know that many of our peers in the restaurant industry have had to make this difficult choice. Employees who work in the cafe and food production are being redeployed to support our grocery stores.

The co-op has generous PTO for those who are not able to return to work. Until we have clarity on the new federal sick leave bill, we are allowing those who are in self-quarantine on the advice of a medical professional to go into a negative PTO balance, for up to two weeks of their regular scheduled hours. We are also providing a $2 per hour hazard pay bonus for our staff beginning with hours worked Monday March 9. We will continue hazard pay until April 12, when we will reassess based on the financial health of the co-op.

How can I support Seward Co-op and employees there?

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 663, which is our employees’ union...

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 663, which is our employees’ union, is requesting that federal officials recognize the critically important function that grocery workers are providing in this time of crisis. Seward Community Co-op supports the UFCW 663 in their effort to have all food workers be recognized as tier one first responders. UFCW Local 663 Union President Matt Utecht is providing daily updates about this advocacy work on the UFCW blog.

Please call elected state and federal officials and voice the same support.
Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan: 651.201.3400 / toll free 800.657.3717
Senator Amy Klobuchar: 612.727.5220 / toll free 888.224.9043
Senator Tina Smith: 651.221.1016

How can I support food access in our community during this time?

Reach out to the food shelves and homeless shelters in our community. This month, our SEED recipient is St. Stephen’s Human Services, which operates two shelters in Minneapolis...

Reach out to the food shelves and homeless shelters in our community. In March our SEED recipient was St. Stephen’s Human Services, which operates two shelters in Minneapolis for adults of all genders experiencing homelessness. SEED funds will be used to infuse the nearly 300 meals served daily with more nutritious, local, and environmentally-conscious options. The closure of our Franklin store this week has had a major impact on our ability to raise funds for St. Stephen’s. If you are inspired to provide additional support, add funds in addition to your “round-up.” Notify your cashier if you would like to do so and they will add it to your bill.

Who is the April SEED recipient?

For at least the first two weeks of April, we will round-up for Mobile Outreach Outdoor Drop-In (MOODI)...

To respond to community needs during the COVID-19 crisis, we are planning an emergency SEED program 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.

Information on the Seward Co-op Staff Affected by COVID-19

Please provide more information about the staff person confirmed to have COVID-19.

The employee who tested positive works in the Wellness department at our Franklin store...

The employee who tested positive works in the Wellness department at our Franklin store. The employee worked one shift in the last two weeks. That shift was 3–10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10. Out of concern for the privacy of the employee who is ill, we are limited in the information that we can provide the public.

We are relieved to announce that aside from the initial positive COVID-19 test of an employee at the Franklin store all other employees who have been tested received negative results. We wish all who are feeling under the weather well, and we hope that those of you who are sick make a speedy recovery.

Did this person work in food preparation or have contact with food in the store?

The staff person does not work in food preparation and did not have contact with food prepared in our stores.

The staff person does not work in food preparation and did not have contact with food prepared in our stores.

How did the staff person contract COVID-19?

The staff person does not work in food preparation and did not have contact with food prepared in our stores.

We understand that this employee contracted COVID-19 through travel.

What is being done for the employees that have had close contact with the person that tested positive for COVID-19?

All employees who were in close contact with the affected employee have been contacted...

All employees who were in close contact with the affected employee have been contacted. We are tracking any symptoms that employees exhibit, asking people to self-quarantine if advised by their medical professional and to ask to be tested if they show symptoms.

Are there any other staff members that are confirmed to have COVID-19?

We are aware that a number of our employees have been tested with the one positive result that we have shared publicly...

We are aware that a number of our employees have been tested with the one positive result that we have shared publicly.

As of March 23, we are pleased to report that we have received additional negative test results from our employees. So far of the nine employees who have been tested, we have received six negative test results and are awaiting the results from two additional tests.

We had 39 staff members who have called in sick since March 16. Seventeen of these employees have been asked by a medical professional to not come to work and self-quarantine. Twenty-two employees have called off for other reasons. We continue to ask staff members and the public to stay home if they feel unwell or exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19.

Will all Seward Co-op staff be tested for COVID-19?

Tests have been in limited supply and are being prioritized by health officials accordingly...

Tests have been in limited supply and are being prioritized by health officials accordingly. A number of our employees, have called in sick reporting symptoms that include one of the four symptoms of illness. These are sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and fever. We are aware that at least seven employees have been tested with the one positive result that we have shared publicly. We are required as a food business to track illnesses and have been working with staff to keep our sick logs up to date. Although grocery store workers are considered first responders, we are classified as tier two and thus do not have priority access to testing and protective gear. We continue work to line up access to these tests.

Board of Directors Meeting

What happened during the board's executive session on March 31?

Seward Co-op’s board met virtually (for the first time ever!) in executive session on March 31. At the meeting, management shared information about the co-op’s finances with directors. While we are currently in a good cash position, we are focused on managing our cash wisely, and building it back up.

To that end, the board decided on March 31 to:

• Suspend the buyback (repurchase) of all C stock held by co-op owners. This is the $500 investment shares of stock that many co-op owners have purchased over the years. Requests will go in a queue. Once the board deems that the crisis is over, it will approve repurchases in the order the requests were made. Some exceptions may be in hardship cases.

• Renew all owner loans due this year for one full year. When we built Friendship and renovated the Creamery in 2015, we raised over $2.6 million in owner loans from our members to help fund these projects. In 2020, about $700,000 of these loans come due.

Another recent board decision is to continue in its current composition, and allow co-op owners to fill two currently vacant board seats this autumn. The next board of directors election will occur in Oct. 2020 and as part of that, four seats will be filled. The current board feels that is important to support Seward Co-op operations in this unprecedented time by working with the resources it already has. From Board President LaDonna Sanders Redmond: “We did not make this decision lightly—we made the decision because we felt it was in the best interest of Seward co-op and co-op owners.”

Because the board met in executive session, they held a virtual listening session last night. Management discussed the financial condition of the co-op highlighted above in depth. If you want more information on these items, we recorded the session. We will share that video once it is available.

What happened during the listening session April 1?

Our board and management co-hosted a community listening session with updates about store operations, co-op finances and recent board decisions...

Our board and management co-hosted a community listening session with updates about store operations, co-op finances and recent board decisions. The board decisions are listed in the question above. Approximately 50 people attended, and many community members asked questions, expressed support and discussed new ways to continue to support the financial sustainability of our co-op during this time of crisis. A recording of the meeting will be available soon.

How can I view the virtual board listening session that happened April 1?

A recording of the meeting will be available soon.

A recording of the meeting will be available soon.

Why was a listening session with the board held? How did owners attend?

Please email your name and co-op owner number to board@seward.coop, in advance...

We had scheduled a virtual listening session with Seward Co-op owners on Wednesday, April 1 from 6–7:30 p.m. The listening session was open to any co-op owner. Owners emailed their name and co-op owner number to board@seward.coop in advance to indicate your intention to attend. This will allowed us to provide you the virtual meeting link.