COVID-19 Information & Updates

As our community works together to navigate this time, we want to make sure that you can stay up-to-date with the latest changes and information regarding First Alternative Co-op and our store operations. We want to thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work diligently to provide the safest shopping experience for our customers.

Recent updates (Updated 9/7/20)

  • We recently learned that an employee from First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op’s North Store tested positive for COVID-19. This employee has not worked a shift at the Co-op since Wednesday, August 19, which means it has been over two weeks and therefore risk of spread is low. This staff member was traveling and got tested as a precaution before returning to the area and has not been at work since. We want to assure you that we are following all recommended guidelines from the local health department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure our stores continue to be a safe place to shop.

    We have notified all employees and asked them to closely monitor their health and to stay home if they experience any symptoms. We have also provided staff with information about free local testing options if they wish to seek a precautionary test. Our primary concern right now is the wellness of this employee, other staff and our community. We want to assure you that this positive test result does not make First Alternative Co-op a higher-risk environment than other public spaces. As such, the co-op will remain open from 8am to 8pm daily. We use a rigorous disinfection protocol in our stores daily and have increased focus in the area in which this person worked. We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the health department’s guidelines.

    To learn more about the Co-op’s response, visit firstalt.coop/COVID-19 for all relevant updates. If you have questions about your specific risk factors, we encourage you to call the Benton County Health Department’s hotline at 541-766-6120 or visit their informational page at https://www.co.benton.or.us/coronavirus.

    Thank you for your support as we do everything possible to keep our community safe, healthy and well-fed during this time.

  • We continue to prioritize safe shopping guidelines and as such, you may notice a few changes at both of our stores, including greeters at the door during peak shopping times to help ensure all shoppers are wearing masks and to answer any questions you may have. There are also changes to the entrance/exit flow at our North Store. Please pay close attention to instructional signage at the stores.

Ongoing changes

  • Both Co-op locations will be expanding store hours to be open 8am – 8pm daily until further notice. This will allow our shoppers more time to spread out their trips, making social distancing easier for everyone.
  • All shoppers are required to wear a facial mask or covering while in the store per the State of Oregon’s mandate. Those who have exemptions due to underlying health conditions or a disability may receive accommodations by requesting a face shield at the Customer Service desk or utilizing our pick-up/delivery services (firstalt.coop/order). We have disposable masks available at all entrances for those who may not have one.
  • All staff are required to wear facial coverings in the store and in areas where they are unable to keep six feet of social distance. Thanks to a few generous community donations and some of our talented staff who took on the task of sewing masks for their co-workers, we have plenty of facial coverings for all staff. We were also able to get facial shields for those staff who are unable to wear masks due to other medical conditions.
  • We have installed plexiglass shields at our registers to help protect our staff and shoppers during the check out process. We ask that you wait until the person in front of you has completed their transaction before unloading your groceries to help maintain six feet of social distance. We also ask that you refrain from putting your reusable bag on the conveyor belt and bag your own groceries if you are able.
  • We are now offering pick-up and delivery services. We ask that delivery requests be reserved for seniors, those who are immune-compromised, or otherwise vulnerable shoppers. Learn about the full process and place an order at firstalt.coop/order.
  • We have temporarily discontinued our weekly Fresh Flyer sales program due to the ongoing distribution challenges we face. We are still offering many great sales throughout the store, including our Co-op Deals program, but please note that we cannot guarantee these items will be in stock.
  • New changes to the bulk department have been implemented.
    • Please maintain 6 feet of social distance in the bulk departments and throughout the store.
    • Please use a new container for all bulk and produce purchases until further notice. Reusable containers from home are not permitted.
    • All scoops, funnels, spoons are now single-use.
    • All bin lids and gravity bin handles are being sanitized multiple times daily and spice containers are being wiped down several times daily.
    • Increased staffing will help us enforce social distancing between shoppers and assist as needed.
  • The hot food and salad bars will be closed until further notice. The Grab & Go section will remain, and the commissary is working to expand our selection of pre-packaged heat-and-eat meals to include a number of hot bar favorites in family and individual sizes. All bakery items will be individually packed, and fresh-brewed coffee will no longer be self-serve, but still available from the deli. We cannot fill personal mugs.
  • Beans 4 Bags tokens have been removed from all registers. Recipient organizations for this quarter will have the donation amount divided evenly between them.
  • One case limit on special orders of the following packaged items: beans, pasta, tomato products, cereal, olive oil, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitizing products (as soon as they are available.)
  • The public meeting rooms and seating areas next to the deli at both stores will also remain closed until further notice.
  • Our maintenance team is sanitizing the store (along with storage areas, break rooms, and offices) multiple time per day. This includes wiping down basket and cart handles, doors handles, restrooms, registers, work spaces, and any other commonly used spaces and items.
  • Hand sanitizers and disposable gloves are available at all entrances and in locations where food is served.
  • All demos and passive sampling have been canceled until further notice.
  • Staff are being required to stay home at the first sign of any illness. We are also giving staff who feel unsafe working in this environment the option of staying home. In both these situations, we are providing job assurance to any staff who want or need to stay home.
Thanks to the amazing Co-op staff, community members, vendors, farmers, bakers, drink makers, and all the local leaders that are helping us work our way through this uniquely trying time. Remember that even with social distancing, we stand together as a community.
Continue to stay up-to-date on the latest store updates by following @firstaltcoop on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.