LEAP Markets’ COVID-19 response

Mar 16, 2020 by

An ounce of prevention… View this email in your browser 

As concerns about Corona Virus mount, LEAP farmers markets are actively evaluating our role as public gatherings that are vital to food access for consumers and livelihoods of farmers. Given our mission to nurture healthy communities and resilient local food systems, we’re implementing a few precautionary steps to minimize exposure and outbreak risks while continuing to serve the community’s food needs in uncertain times.

First off, Markets will remain open! Farmers markets and their short supply chains mean increased resiliency despite global disruptions, and we’re going to do everything we can to maintain these transparent, equitable food access points for our community in this time of potential hardship. We have always taken food safety extremely seriously, and while there’s no evidence that Corona Virus can be spread through food, we’re nonetheless being especially vigilant about our existing health, safety, and sanitization procedures.

With that said, you’ll notice a few changes at market. We’ll be enacting additional health and safety protocols such as asking customers to wash/sanitize hands, spacing out tables to avoid close contact, and pre-bagging items to avoid customers handling the produce. We’re taking steps to restrict the number of patrons congregating in tight quarters. You won’t be seeing any kids’ activities, special events, or tastings/samples. We’ll be temporarily doing away with credit card processing fees to encourage card use, as it presents less chance of spreading contaminants versus cash. We won’t be distributing new tokens; all shopping typically done with tokens will happen directly with the Market Manager. Also, until further notice, we’re eliminating the $30 cap on Healthy Food Incentive (e.g. SNAP Double and Medicaid Double) purchases – if you want to stock up, feel free to maximize your benefits, with no limit!

If you don’t feel comfortable coming out in public, we nonetheless want to make sure you have access to the quality food you expect from LEAP markets. We’re working on rolling out a rudimentary “click-list” style ordering system featuring the same growers and products you know and trust, but with the added convenience and safety of a pre-order and curbside pickup and payment. If you don’t feel safe leaving home, we’ll offer home delivery in Roanoke City for a $5 fee (if you can’t afford this fee, we’re willing to work with you. To ensure this service is accessible to our most vulnerable patrons, consider a donation via Roanoke Valley Gives to offset the cost of home delivery for at-risk, low-income shoppers). To shop from the comfort and security of home, call or email Kelly Key, 540-492-5311 or kelly@leapforlocalfood.org for additional information.

You, our customers, play an integral part in the continued health and resilience of the markets, especially now. Please don’t come to market if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, or suspect you may have been exposed to the virus. If possible, please don’t bring kids to market, or leave them in the car. Of course, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and avoid touching your face. Please, don’t handle the produce – just point to what you want, and let a vendor/staff person bag it for you. We know many of you have developed close personal relationships with vendors and fellow patrons, but please avoid physical contact – elbow bumps are the new hip thing! If possible, avoid cash and opt for debit/credit/Apple Pay; avoid contact when paying – you can insert your card yourself or lay money on the table instead of handing it the vendor/manager. And please only rely on trusted sources for up-to-date health information; our local Health Department is doing an excellent job of providing relevant, accurate, timely info to the public.

This is normally a hopeful time of year for farmers; please consider helping to dispel some of their uncertainty by stocking up on fresh, healthy, local food! Keep your food dollars local in uncertain economic times; boost your immune system with the freshest, and thus most nutrient-dense food available; get a boost of vitamin D at an open-air market instead of the supermarket, (where multiple suppliers and customers are likely to have handled products before your purchase). And while we’re focused on the resiliency of our local food system – and maybe working from home – it’s a perfect time to consider starting your own vegetable garden; let us know if you need support or space to grow your own food.

As this situation is constantly evolving, all information is subject to change – monitor our social media or reach out directly if you have time-sensitive questions or concerns. Farmers markets are vital for resilient local food systems, and we’re committed to providing equitable access to quality food, while always keeping the health and safety of our community at the forefront of our decision-making. If you have questions, concerns, thoughts or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. Thanks for your continued support of LEAP and local farmers and food producers! Become a LEAP Community Partner! Support LEAP and snag some great deals at the Community Markets. LEAP Partnerships are open to businesses- let LEAP help promote the great work you do in the community!

Buy a LEAP Market Gift Certificate for a longtime market-goer or to introduce a friend to the market. 

Want to volunteer with LEAP?  LEAP runs on community support. Let us know if you have a special skill you’d love to share!

Have a question? Email Maureen at maureen@LEAPforlocalfood.org.
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