Guidance for Minnesota Farmers’ Markets and Vendors During the COVID-19 Pandemic
These are extraordinary times in 2020 as our farmers’ markets continue to provide food to our communities during this pandemic. This document provides suggestions for markets and vendors to implement in order to stay open to comply with Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-04 that closed restaurants, bars, and other businesses where people gather. Farmers’ markets are exempt from this order as long as we don’t offer onsite food consumption (including food sampling). We are also encouraged to do drive thrus, follow 6-feet social distancing, and promote hand-washing.
Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is waiving the requirement for markets to buy a food license on a discretionary basis if the reason the modifications were made to the market is to comply with Executive Order 20-04. Once the COVID-19 crisis passes and a market chooses to continue operational activities in the same way that would require a license, the market will have to buy a license.
Guidance for Markets
Evaluate your current layout; see if you can redesign it to build in the six feet of separation between vendors and customers; and customers and customers. Following are suggestions we’ve gathered from farmers’ markets across the U.S.
- Encourage families to send just one person into the market to shop
- Schedule the first hour of the market for customers who have health issues or may need special
- If you need to limit the number of people in your market in order to maintain the 6' separation: a
circle with the required 6' radius for social distancing is 113 square feet. Take your market area
square footage open to shoppers (excluding vendor stalls) and divide by 81. E.g., a market 150' long by
50' wide = 7,500 sqft. Divided by 81 = 93 people could shop at the market at one time.
Food Access Programs:
SNAP EBT, FMNP, PoP
The USDA requires a farmers’ market to offer SNAP if the market is open and has a SNAP program.
Many markets use tokens (wood, plastic, metal, paper, laminated paper) to offer various programs.
According to UCLA, this virus lives on plastic and metal up to 72 hours; on cardboard up to 24 hours. Metal and plastic tokens can be sanitized using the appropriate solutions; time may be the best sanitation for wood and paper tokens. Laminated paper tokens may be wiped off.
Although some risk of transmitting the virus does reside with the tokens, the main risk is really in the people interaction.
Our best advice: as SNAP participants approach to use the card reader and obtain tokens, market worker should back up 6 feet. Once the SNAP participant has finished with the machine transactions, they should back up 6 feet, allowing the market worker to advance and complete the process.
The Power of Produce (PoP) program may need to be postponed for the year since limiting the number of shoppers in the market is the highest priority. A market could consider allowing the family's designated shopper to pick up the produce their children have chosen (without the children being present).
Sanitation Guidance for Markets and Vendors
Guidance for Market and Vendor Workforce
Guidance for Communicating
Several markets have established wonderful communication pieces already for their customers. Review these and find the messages that work best for your market and community: