September 30, 2020

Dear GreenStar Community,

Today we received notification that a GreenStar employee working at 770 Cascadilla Street tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is currently in isolation. The health department has not identified a risk for public exposure related to this case.

Those identified as having close contact (as defined by the Health Department) with the employee have already been contacted and protocols for essential workers are being followed.

GreenStar has a policy that emphasizes strong safety practices and requires staff to use personal protective equipment, including cloth face coverings and masks that cover the mouth, nose, and chin as well as gloves. Our staff diligently follow cleaning and sanitizing routines throughout the day in all departments. We follow the safety protocols recommended by the public health and regulating authorities. We remain vigilant in encouraging all staff and customers to exercise these safety precautions, so we can maintain a safe work environment and shopping experience as together we continue to manage the impact of this global pandemic.

As a reminder, it is required of GreenStar customers to properly wear face coverings for the full extent of their shop at GreenStar. If you forget a mask, we provide disposable masks at the Customer Service Desk. If you are not able to medically tolerate wearing a mask and plan to enter the store, we encourage you to use alternative shopping options including grocery delivery or curbside pickup through Instacart.

As has been advised since the onset of the pandemic, anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the guidelines of their primary care physician or contact the Tompkins County Public Health Department. Testing is provided at Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Mon–Fri, 8:30AM–4:00PM Pre-register online at https://cayugahealthsystem.org/or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.

We are working collaboratively with public health authorities and want to remind you of the other ways we can keep each other safe:

  • Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
  • Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
  • Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms. Individuals presenting symptoms or with concerns about being exposed, should seek testing.

We are committed to providing a quality place to work, shop, and dine for our staff, customers, and members. I thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at GreenStar.

Thank you,

Brandon Kane
General Manager

Previous Communications:

We have issued frequent updates as this situation continues to evolve and guidance from federal, state, and local agencies changes. The following communications have been sent to members of our community:

In order to ensure that we are doing our utmost to protect against the spread of infection, GreenStar has established a face covering policy for staff and shoppers as detailed below. Thank you for your cooperation and support in helping to keep everyone safe.

GreenStar Co-op’s Face Covering Policy

New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed an Executive Order requiring all essential workers to wear face coverings while interacting with the public, effective beginning April 15, 2020 at 8:00 pm. This Executive Order is expected to remain in effect until further notice.

All GreenStar employees are considered “essential workers.” To comply with this Order, GreenStar will ensure that cloth face coverings are available to all employees. GreenStar employees are expected to wear the face covering during their work time in any situation where they are interacting with the public (including, but not limited to, people who are customers, members, and vendors); when they need to be closer than six feet away from another person, including co-workers; or when they are working with food or chemicals.

GreenStar’s standard for staff is to wear a cloth face covering while performing job duties in the indoor retail space. A face shield without the use of a cloth face covering is acceptable for staff when performing work duties outdoors only. If chosen, a face shield can be worn in addition to a cloth face covering.

Staff may remove their face covering in designated break areas and in outdoor and indoor dining areas while maintaining six feet of physical distance.

Customers and vendors must also comply with the Executive Order to include wearing a face mask for the entirety of their time in the store. People may remove their masks while seated in the indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Any person who cannot medically tolerate the use of a face mask may utilize our curbside pickup or delivery shopping service through Instacart, or please call ahead to the Customer Service Desk and request shopping assistance.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward plan, every business is required to develop a written safety business plan outlining how it will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. In compliance with this requirement, GreenStar has developed a plan, which may be read here.

Non-Customer Facing GreenStar Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Dear GreenStar Community,

Today (July 11, 2020) we received notification that a non-customer facing GreenStar employee working at 770 Cascadilla Street tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is asymptomatic and currently in isolation.

We worked with the Tompkins County Health Department to complete a thorough contact tracing investigation. Anyone who was a close contact (as defined by the Health Department) with the employee has already been contacted by the Health Department and will be in quarantine while awaiting test results.

The Health Department is not recommending that other GreenStar staff, shoppers, or the general public seek testing in response to this positive case. The public release from the Health Department follows this communication.

GreenStar has a policy that emphasizes strong safety practices and requires staff to use personal protective equipment, including cloth face coverings and masks that cover the mouth, nose, and chin as well as gloves. Our staff diligently follow cleaning and sanitizing routines throughout the day in all departments. We follow the safety protocols recommended by the CDC and public health authorities. We remain vigilant in encouraging all staff and customers to exercise these safety precautions, so we can maintain a safe work environment and shopping experience as together we continue to manage the impact of this global pandemic.

As a reminder, it is required of GreenStar customers to properly wear face coverings for the full extent of their shop at GreenStar. If you forget a mask, we provide disposable masks at the Customer Service Desk. If you are not able to medically tolerate wearing a mask and plan to enter the store, please seek assistance at the Customer Service Desk. GreenStar also offers alternative shopping options including grocery delivery or curbside pickup through Instacart.

As has been advised since the onset of the pandemic, anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the guidelines of their primary care physician or contact the Tompkins County Public Health Department. Testing is provided at Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Mon–Fri, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM Pre-register online at cayugahealth.org/ or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.

We are working collaboratively with the Tompkins County Health Department and want to remind you of the other ways we can keep each other safe:

• Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
• Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
• Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Monitor yourself for symptoms. Individuals presenting symptoms or with concerns about being exposed, should seek testing.

We are committed to providing a quality place to work, shop, and dine for our staff, customers, and members. I thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at GreenStar.

Thank you,

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Public Communication from Tompkins County Health Department

Non-Customer Facing GreenStar Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, All Close Contacts Identified

(Ithaca, NY – July 11, 2020) – The Tompkins County Health Department received notification that a non-customer facing GreenStar employee tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is asymptomatic and currently in isolation.

“Our Health Department nurses conducted the contact tracing investigation and all close contacts have been identified. This was not a public exposure. The individual who tested positive is in isolation and all close contacts are in quarantine,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.

At this time, the Tompkins County Health Department is not recommending that GreenStar shoppers or the general public seek testing in response to this positive case.

Reminders to the public that everyone can continue to take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community:
• Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
• Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
• Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Monitor yourself for symptoms. Individuals presenting symptoms or with concerns about being exposed, should seek testing.

Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd. Mon–Fri, 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM. Pre-register online at cayugahealth.org/ or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.

“We are in close contact with GreenStar and appreciate the steps they are taking to support proper distancing, mask-wearing, hygiene, and density considerations to ensure the health and safety of their employees and patrons,” stated Frank Kruppa.

For more information and updates, go to the Health Department website: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health.

Find us on Facebook @TompkinsPublicHealth and Twitter @TompkinsHealth.

A Message to our Co-op Shoppers & Member-Owners

Dear GreenStar Community,

Thank you for continuing to support your local Co-op! Together, we are adjusting to what is evolving into our new normal in adherence to NYS regulations related to COVID-19. Since the onset of the global pandemic, GreenStar has responded proactively and in compliance with national, state, and local authorities’ recommendations by establishing safety protocols for its staff and customers. Please understand that as a retail business serving the public, GreenStar must comply with the recommendations of our public health authorities and executive orders.

Please take a moment to review the safety requirements GreenStar has in place for shoppers while in our stores. If you do not feel you can observe these conditions, please consider shopping GreenStar through Instacart delivery or curbside pickup (coming mid-June). More products, including produce and items from the GreenStar kitchen, will soon be added to our Instacart page. You may also consider asking a friend or family member to shop for you.

We hope that by clearly communicating these expectations in advance and offering alternatives, shoppers will feel informed, safe, and respected. If you have questions about these requirements, please feel free to reach out through our website Contact Us form.

  • Face Coverings Required at All Times*  All shoppers must wear a face covering at all times inside our stores. Disposable masks are available in the entry lobby or at the Customer Service Desk if you do not have a face covering or forget to bring a face covering with you to the store. If a staff person observes a customer not wearing a mask, they have been directed to politely ask the customer to put on a face covering or offer a mask if they do not have one. If a shopper refuses to wear a face covering, GreenStar reserves the right to ask that person to the store. If you have a medical reason that you cannot wear a face covering, please ask to speak with a manager prior to entering the store, so that a manager can assist you.
  • Store Capacity is Limited – At present, GreenStar continues to allow for 50% of its building capacity. To help monitor the number of customers within the store, please take a cart upon entry and return it to a cart corral or the main entrance for sanitizing by one of our foyer attendants.
  • Self-Serve Features – We are anxiously awaiting the phase in which we can open our self-serve hot bar and cold bar, allow for indoor and outdoor dining, and offer more of our self-serve features. We are offering a limited number of gravity bins in our bulk section for customer convenience, but we ask that you continue to refrain from bringing your own containers for now.

*Below is a relevant segment of Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order regarding a business’ obligation and authority to enforce compliance with face covering regulations:

“Business operators and building owners, and those authorized on their behalf shall have the discretion to ensure compliance with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 (requiring any individual over age two, and able to medically tolerate a face-covering, be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place), including the discretion to deny admittance to individuals who fail to comply with the directive in Executive Order 202.17 or to require or compel their removal if they fail to adhere to such directive, and such owner or operator shall not be subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, or frustration of purpose, solely due to their enforcement of such directive. Nothing in this directive shall prohibit or limit the right of State and local enforcement authorities from imposing fines or other penalties for any violation of the directive in Executive Order 202.17.  This directive shall be applied in a manner consistent with the American with Disabilities Act or any provision of either New York State or New York City Human Rights Law, or any other provision of law.” 

Thank you and be well,

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted May 20, 2020:

Dear GreenStar Community,

I am writing in follow-up to my previous communications on May 13 and May 14, which informed you that a GreenStar employee working at our 770 Cascadilla Street store tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and shared dates that the Tompkins County Health Department determined to be time periods for potential exposure (May 8 and 9, 7:00 AM – 3:15 PM and May 11, 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM).

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) identified, through its contact investigation (contact tracing), a limited number of GreenStar employees as being at higher-risk for exposure to the confirmed case. Those staff have been tested, and I am pleased to report that their results returned negative for COVID-19.

While the news is a relief, GreenStar remains just as diligent in our robust efforts to maintain a safe workplace for staff and a safe experience for its members and shoppers. We continue to implement the safety precautions that were already in place, modify as needed or directed by public health authorities, and follow essential worker protocols as recommended by TCHD to meet requirements for essential businesses established by New York State.

Following is a list of other safety precautions that we’ve put in place:

  • GreenStar has limited the number of people in the store to 50% of its store capacity.
  • Foyer attendants are sanitizing carts and ensuring that shoppers are wearing face coverings before entering the store.
  • All staff are wearing personal protective equipment.
  • Cleaners are conducting regular and consistent sanitation throughout the store and in office areas and communal areas. They frequently clean restrooms, wipe door handles, cooler handles, counter surfaces, scales, and other high-touch areas.
  • Cashiers are sanitizing the conveyor belt in-between transactions and wiping credit card machines and keypads.
  • Protective barriers have been installed at registers.
  • Physical distancing markers are in place throughout the store.
  • GreenStar has ceased operation of many self-serve features that may pose health risks at this time.

Following a press release from the TCHD and our May 13 and 14 announcements to staff, members, and other subscribers to our communications, the Cayuga Health COVID-19 Ithaca Sampling Center set a one-day record on May 14, testing more than 450 people. Many of those people included GreenStar employees who made the personal choice to get tested. To date, GreenStar has not received notification of an additional confirmed case. GreenStar has been and is following all recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state, and local health authorities. The TCHD is aware of the safety precautions in place at our stores and has remarked on their appreciation for the steps we have taken and continue to implement to ensure the health and safety of our employees and shoppers.

The TCHD issued these recommendations for those who shopped during the dates and times for potential exposure, which include getting tested (sampling site schedule here), self-quarantine, and monitoring your health for symptoms of COVID-19. Please note that protocols are different for essential workers. To clarify, employees who were identified as being at higher risk for exposure did not return to work at GreenStar until after their test results were confirmed to be negative. There are conditions for those limited number of people to return to work, such as not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, daily temperature checking, symptom monitoring, etc. GreenStar has established processes to meet those conditions. Employees who were not identified as being at higher risk for exposure are permitted by health authorities to return to work as they await test results. This information has been confirmed with the TCHD on multiple occasions in the last week.

I want to express gratitude to the many, many members and shoppers who have reached out to GreenStar via email, social media, and in personal notes sharing their genuine concern for the staff person affected, messages of gratitude for the measures GreenStar has put in place, and appreciations for the dedicated staff who are following critical safety practices. Through difficult situations, your fair minds and kind words are a valuable source of encouragement. Thank you! We have received many questions and comments and have done our best to respond with the information we are able to share. If you have further questions, please contact us through our online form. We will continue to keep our community apprised as to how COVID-19 may be impacting GreenStar’s operations.

Our staff has excelled as a team in these past many weeks as they’ve worked to bring our new Cooperative grocery store to the community. I am proud of their achievement and the positive feedback that we have received from customers on the presentation of the store as well as the kindness and great customer service demonstrated by our staff. I believe this is a testament to the pride GreenStar staff hold in their Co-op. I thank them for that, and I thank our members and shoppers who uphold their trust in GreenStar and continue to support their Co-op. As members, we are all responsible to nurture the success of our Cooperative. We value transparency, participation, the democratic process, and with all of that, we should maintain optimism. I believe through these values and positive action, we can celebrate an exciting future for GreenStar. 

Thank you,


Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted May 14, 2020:

Dear GreenStar Community,

We were notified today by the Tompkins County Public Health Department that they are identifying Monday, May 11 as a date that potential exposure to COVID-19 may have occurred at the 770 Cascadilla Street store. This date is in addition to the previously reported dates/times of Friday, May 8 (7 AM – 3:15 PM) and Saturday, May 9 (7 AM – 3:15 PM). This addition has been made based on information that was ascertained through the ongoing contact investigation conducted by the public health department with the person who has tested positive. The information was discovered following yesterday’s release from the health department and GreenStar’s communications to staff and member-owners. Due to the expansion of potential exposure dates, any additional employees who may have been in close contact to the affected person on Monday, May 11 have been notified and the health department is working with them to facilitate testing and follow-up actions.
Please note that to date, GreenStar has not been notified of any additional staff receiving a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Staff identified to be at higher-risk for exposure are not working while they await test results. GreenStar continues to comply with the Protocols for Essential Personnel to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure for Infection, as detailed on the Tompkins County Public Health Department website. It is also made clear by the Tompkins County Public Health Department here that identifying information about the affected individual cannot be released in order to protect the privacy of the person.
According to the Tompkins County Public Health Department, “a contact investigation is the process of identifying anyone who may have come into contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. An individual who is a confirmed case (test results are positive for Coronavirus) is interviewed by the public health nurse about the places they have been, and asked to list people who may have been in close contact. Close contact is within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for a long period of time or direct contact with infection secretions of an individual, via cough, sneeze, or speaking. The contacts are notified that they may have been exposed in a location with an individual who is positive for COVID-19.” GreenStar has fully cooperated with the investigation conducted by the department of health.
Please keep in mind that in the interest of public health, it was critical for both the health department and GreenStar to communicate as quickly as possible yesterday upon discovery of this confirmed case. GreenStar prepared its communications in collaboration with and with approval from the Tompkins County Public Health Department, and issued those communications on May 13 (see below) in compliance with the public health department’s timeline. It is fortunate that this information was revealed, so both the public health department and GreenStar can inform all staff, shoppers, and the general public.
The contact investigation is ongoing. We will continue to follow the guidance of the public health authorities and will share additional updates as we have more information.
If you feel you should get tested, you are encouraged to do so. You can get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd., between the hours of 10 AM – 3 PM Monday through Friday. Sampling site hours have been extended to 9 AM to 4 PM on Friday, May 15. You can pre-register online cayugahealth.org/ or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.
Again, staff who were potentially at high-risk for exposure are not working while they await their test results. All other staff can choose to get tested and may continue to work as they await their test results as long as they are not ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Please take a moment to review the Protocols for Essential Workers from the Tompkins County Public Health Department if you have questions about this. GreenStar is complying with these protocols.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during this situation.
Be safe and be well!
Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted May 13, 2020:

Dear GreenStar Community,

Today, we learned from the Tompkins County Public Health Department that a GreenStar Food Co-op employee working at our 770 Cascadilla Street store tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon learning of the result, we acted quickly with our local health department to form an immediate response and communication plan.
GreenStar is mandated to maintain confidentiality and cannot disclose the person’s identity, nor the department in which the person worked. Please note, not ALL staff and shoppers have been “exposed” to this confirmed case, as defined by public health authorities. The staff persons who may have been in close contact with the affected employee have already been notified and the public health department is working with them to facilitate testing and follow-up actions. The Tompkins County Public Health Department considers “close contact” to be in physical proximity under 6 feet and for prolonged periods of time.
The affected staff person worked at the 770 Cascadilla Street store on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 between the hours of 7 AM and 3:15 PM. The Tompkins County Public Health Department recommends that all staff and shoppers who were in the store during these times consider getting tested. As an essential worker, testing is free to access. You can get tested at the Cayuga Health Sampling Site located at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwood Rd., between the hours of 10 AM – 3 PM Monday through Friday. You can pre-register online cayugahealth.org/ or call the Cayuga Health Registration Line at 607-319-5708.
GreenStar is following all recommended guidelines from public health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and state and local health departments. The CDC and public health departments emphasize that a positive test result does not make GreenStar Food Co-op a higher risk environment than other public spaces. As such, GreenStar’s store at 770 Cascadilla Street will remain open from 8 AM – 8 PM daily.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, GreenStar has implemented safety measures as directed by the public health authorities. Shortly after the opening of our new store at 770 Cascadilla Street, I was in communication with the Tompkins County Public Health Department to ensure we were adequately following all infection control processes and implementing sufficient safety precautions. The health department agreed that our safety practices were beyond adequate and they have advised that we continue the measures we have already put in place.
GreenStar is taking multiple steps to care for our staff, serve our customers, and be a responsible member of our community. We have implemented rigorous cleaning practices throughout all of our stores, including more frequent cleanings of high-touch areas across our entire co-op. Following is a list of other steps we have taken:
  • Foyer attendants are sanitizing carts and reminding shoppers to wear face coverings in the store
  • Cleaners are conducting regular and consistent sanitation throughout our store and in office areas and communal areas – frequently cleaning restrooms, wiping door handles, cooler handles, counter surfaces, scales, and other high-touch areas.
  • All staff are wearing personal protective equipment and shoppers are required to wear face coverings in the store.
  • Cashiers are sanitizing the belt in-between transactions and wiping keypads.
  • Plastic barriers have been installed at registers and physical distancing markers are in place throughout the store.
  • GreenStar has ceased operation of many self-serve features that may pose health risks at this time.
We will continue to follow the guidance of public health authorities and we will share additional updates as we have more information. If you have questions about specific risk factors, we encourage you to contact the Tompkins County Public Health Department or consult the CDC. Thank you for your support as we do everything possible to keep our community safe and healthy.
Be safe and be well!
Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted April 12, 2020:

Dear GreenStar Community,

We continue to encounter unexpected situations and challenges as our country, state, and community face myriad consequences related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As I stated in my communication published April 9, we will likely need to modify our plans relative to store operations and staffing as we are impacted. Recently, we needed to make two difficult decisions.

First, effective Monday, April 13, GreenStar’s DeWitt Mall location at 215 N. Cayuga Street will close until further notice. Staff at the DeWitt location were notified on Friday, April 10 of this temporary closure and have been offered the choice of a voluntary layoff or work reassignment at our West End store.

Our DeWitt location relied heavily on purchases made by the employees and customers of neighboring businesses, prepared foods sales, which have decreased significantly due to the pandemic, and other downtown foot traffic related to Ithaca events and tourism. Sales at DeWitt over the past several weeks have decreased so dramatically that the only financially prudent choice at this time is temporary closure. I know for many of our regular DeWitt shoppers, this will be a complicated adjustment, and I sincerely appreciate your understanding in these unfortunate circumstances. Both our West End and Collegetown stores remain operational and are each less than a mile from the DeWitt location. I hope that our DeWitt shoppers will visit either of our other stores. Grocery deliveries from GreenStar are available through Instacart (more information available here). Tompkins Home Delivery is also an option for bulk food delivery (see menu).

Second, GreenStar announced on Friday, that we are offering an opportunity for voluntary layoff to ALL hourly employees. A number of staff have approached me and our HR Director to share their appreciation for the actions GreenStar has taken to support them, but also to share their fears and the stress that comes with being an essential worker. We know that there are staff who are choosing to stay home right now, rather than come to work and be exposed to the public. We don’t fault or judge anyone for their fears or their choices and we continue to feel strongly that each of us has to make the choice that is best for ourselves and our personal situations. Many employees have directly asked if GreenStar would consider laying off staff, so that they did not have to come to work and could collect unemployment. We have listened to everyone’s perspectives and in trying to implement the best plans possible to meet everyone’s diverse needs, we are granting this request.

I anticipate that the GreenStar Community will have the same questions on this subject that many of our staff do, so I will summarize critical points of concern here:

  1. Employees who choose a voluntary layoff will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. Currently, in addition to the weekly amount New York State pays, the Federal government is providing each person receiving unemployment with an additional $600 per week. Both New York State and the Federal government have dramatically extended the number of weeks someone can collect unemployment benefits.
  2. Employees would be eligible to continue their current health insurance coverage through COBRA for up to 18 months by paying the full monthly premium each month. However, because of COVID-19, the governor has declared an open enrollment period for the New York State health insurance exchange, effective until May 15. This means that they can enroll in health insurance through the state plans, which are largely income-based and likely less costly than COBRA.
  3. GreenStar will pay out up to two weeks (max. 80 hours) of unused vacation time and any unused standalone personal time accrued between March 20 and April 4, 2020 to employees who choose a voluntary layoff.

A global pandemic is not something that businesses typically plan for when formulating their annual budgets, and it was never expected at this time in our development that our revenue streams would be so strained or that our sales would decrease to a level that necessitates this action. As GreenStar’s General Manager, I have the responsibility to operate our business in a fiscally responsible way — and I also have the responsibility to try to meet the reasonable needs of our staff in the best way possible. I hope these tough decisions demonstrate that I take that responsibility seriously.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are not going away anytime soon. Social distancing may be our new normal for the foreseeable future. We continue to rely on you, our GreenStar community for compassion, support, and optimism during this challenging time. I am confident we will come out of this crisis a stronger Co-op. Thank you so much for your understanding in this difficult time.

Be safe and be well!

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted on April 9, 2020

GreenStar Community,

As a food cooperative, GreenStar is contributing to fulfilling the essential need of feeding our community. We have and will continue to put actions in place to keep our staff and customers as safe as possible, understanding that even the most well-thought out and executed safety measures can never eliminate all of the risks we face in this pandemic.

Safety in Our Stores

Additional safety measures we’ve put in place since my last communication on April 3 include:

  • Marking a one-way path for customers throughout our West End store, which has the most foot traffic of our three stores. The path is marked with lines 6 feet apart to reinforce adequate social distancing.
  • Marking standing spots 6 feet apart outside the West End store to help distance customers who are waiting to enter the store at 9 AM.
  • Frequent announcements through the paging system to remind shoppers about social distancing and providing sanitary stations for our customers throughout our stores. 
  • Minimizing the number of staff working on the retail floor and reassigning to other back-of-house tasks as much as possible, especially during the shopping hour for customers at high-risk.
  • Implementing a worksite isolation plan, which designates teams of staff to work only at one of our five designated work locations and asks all staff to take every measure to avoid visiting other GreenStar premises except for their weekly grocery shopping. This step was put in place to help avoid cross contamination of GreenStar premises as much as possible, and allows us to isolate our contingency plan to one work location if any of our staff are at any time diagnosed with COVID-19.

These measures have, so far, been well-received by shoppers and staff and seem to be improving congestion of customers and reducing criss cross traffic of people in the store.

Face Coverings, PPE, and Cleaning

Regarding face coverings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 3 reversed its weeks-long recommendation that people not exhibiting symptoms and who are not sick should not wear masks. While the CDC is recommending that staff do so, wearing masks in the grocery industry or in the public is not a national or New York State mandate at this time. After many weeks of trying to obtain face coverings, which as I’m sure you know have been difficult to secure, we were successful in being able to provide cloth face masks for our staff this week. However, while we are highly recommending that staff wear masks if they are able, we cannot mandate staff to wear them and respect their right and our customers’ right to wear or not wear a face covering. Thank you for understanding.

We continue to provide staff and customers with gloves, as well as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Disruptions in the supply chain of PPE in the future will not be unsurprising as they continue to be in high demand across the country and are first provided to health care settings. We are diligent in working to secure these items for continued staff and customer use.

Recently, we assigned several cleaners to conduct enhanced cleaning of our premises through the day according to a checklist of tasks that they and other staff are charged with performing. We continue to make cleaning and sanitizing a top priority at our stores.

Staff Support

Thank you for your amazing support and concern for GreenStar staff. Many people have expressed interest in how we continue to address safety and paycheck protection for employees, so I want to summarize the steps we’ve taken.

  • First, we added the equivalent of two working weeks to each active employee’s paid sick balance to be used when needed without question. Our substitute workforce was included in this benefit. Those sick balances will not be taken back and will be available to people for the length of their employment.
  • We then made a commitment to allow staff who exhausted their sick and vacation balances to go into the negative balance two additional weeks to further protect their income in the event that they couldn’t return to work and no other options for income were available. 
  • From March 20 to April 4, hourly staff who worked in the store accrued ¼ hour of personal time off for every hour worked. This benefit equated to a minimum $3.45/hour.
  • Based on feedback from many staff that they would prefer a monetary increase to paid time off, we ended the ¼ hour personal time off program and replaced it with a bonus system. 
  • On April 5, we implemented a system that pays hourly employees a bonus of at least an additional $2 per hour worked.

Considering that GreenStar is a small business, with limited resources doing a fraction of the business of our closest competitor, these additional benefits are significant. I’m proud that GreenStar was able to take these measures to support our employees in a time of crisis, and I hope our GreenStar Community shares this sense of pride. We also understand that the pandemic situation continues to evolve  and as it impacts us, we will likely need to modify our plans relative to store operations and staffing.

770 Cascadilla Street Team Working for May Opening

While our Collegetown, DeWitt, and West End store teams focus on the daily operation of those  locations, the administrative and operations team working at 770 Cascadilla St. is focusing on performing the work necessary to open our new flagship store. We fully expect that safety precautions related to COVID-19 will continue through the opening of our new store, which means we will likely open without some of these new features. The global pandemic has altered our initial plans in countless ways, and our team is problem-solving daily, revising plans, and taking the time necessary to install the safety measures that are now, in this pandemic, expected of a grocery store. Supply chain interruptions, delayed manufacturing and shipping, and workforce shortage beyond our control can all have an impact on our timeline, but we hope to announce our opening date soon. Thank you for your patience and understanding of the adaptations we have had to make in light of this new normal. We are so looking forward to welcoming you at this beautiful new home for our co-op. 

In place of our Annual Spring Meeting this year, I will deliver my presentation through a pre-recorded video, expected to be available on our website on April 20. In that presentation, I will talk about what customers can expect at the new store, and our overarching financial picture. 

Thank you all for your amazing dedication and support of GreenStar. Please be safe and be well and I look forward to seeing you in our new store soon.

In cooperation,

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted on April 3, 2020

Here is a Summary of All Operational Changes Related to GreenStar’s COVID-19 Response

Thank you for continuing to support your local Co-op! As an essential service, we remain open and ready to serve  our community. We have received many emails praising GreenStar staff and expressing appreciation for the actions we have taken so far to fulfill our social responsibility to both feed our community and help mitigate further spread of COVID-19. Your messages of support are especially appreciated and encouraging in these challenging times. Thank you for your kind words!

A great way that customers can continue to support GreenStar staff and protect one another is to honor the guidelines we are providing here for infection control and social distancing. Below are some further actions we are taking at GreenStar for the benefit of both customers and staff:

High-Risk Customer Shopping Hour

Like many grocery retailers, we are joining in asking customers to consider our first hour of operation reserved for those identified by the CDC as high-risk, including people over the age of 60 and people with compromised immune systems.

How Can You Help?

Please Practice Social Distancing and Hygienic Precautions While Shopping:

  • If you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, please do not come into the store for the safety of others.
  • Please use our sanitizer station to apply hand sanitizer upon entry and sanitizing wipes provided to wipe cart and basket handles. GreenStar continues to deep clean and sanitize the store and high-touch surfaces as possible throughout the day and after hours.
  • As a reminder, please practice social distancing when shopping by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself, other shoppers, and employees. You will see yellow floor markers approximately every 6 ft. throughout the West End store and at our check-out lane. Please use these markers as a guide to help maintain the appropriate 6 ft. distance from other customers and staff.
  • At checkout, please stand behind the line until the customer being cashed out is done. Cashiers will sanitize the area before the next customer is allowed to place their groceries and begin the checkout process.
  • Please use credit/debit cards if you can, and if paying in cash, please place money on the signing shelf to eliminate hand to hand contact with the cashier.
  • Please do not bring in your reusable bags. We know that for many people, this feels counterintuitive to their natural We hear you – it does for us too! This is one of the many precautionary steps we’re taking to prevent hand to hand contact and protect our staff. Brown paper bags are available and we are waiving the 5-cent fee until further notice. We are asking shoppers who are able to bag their own groceries to do so to further limit shared handling of product and bags. We will not be providing empty boxes at the end of registers or in the foyer for customer use.

What we’ve observed is that most shoppers are making fewer trips to the store and purchasing what they need for several days to a week. This is expected, as local and state authorities are urging all of us to stay at home and leave only for essential services. Adopting this personal pattern of shopping is also helpful to our Co-op as it reduces typically heavy foot traffic in the store, but preserves sales. With these larger shops and necessary sanitizing of the checkout area between customers may mean a little extra wait time at checkout. Thank you for your consideration in modifying your shopping habits and for being patient and for being kind through this process.

Changes for Bulk Foods Shopping

It was a very difficult decision, but we have determined that we needed to eliminate shopping from gravity and scoop bulk bins in order to significantly reduce the possibility of exposure in this high contact area. Pre-packaged items are available in the bulk aisle and on shelves in the deli. Liquid bulk items, such as vinegars, oils, and detergents will not be available at this time. Thank you for understanding. This is a temporary change and we will revisit in the future.

Current Limitations – Special Orders, Holds, Quantities

Please understand that due to limited staffing, the limitations of our facilities, and a rapidly developing situation, there are some programs we need to discontinue for now and also, there are some requests that we cannot accommodate.

  • We are temporarily discontinuing our wholesale and special-order programs.
  • We are not able to shop for our customers.
  • We are not able to hold items for customers.
  • We are not accepting orders or payment over the phone.
  • We have chosen not to enforce limits on quantity of product purchasing at this time. We understand that there are many people who are shopping for themselves as well as family members or friends who are seniors, immunocompromised, or self- quarantining, which both protects people at high-risk and limits the number of people entering the store. We hope our customers will be considerate and mindful in their purchasing. However, we will continue to evaluate this decision and other measures on an on-going basis and notify you of changes or additional practices.

Grocery Delivery

We continue to offer grocery delivery through Instacart.

What is GreenStar Doing for Staff?

The safety and well-being of our staff is our top priority and we know you care about the GreenStar team too. Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order on March 20 mandating that all employees except for essential services stay home. New York State defines grocery stores as an essential service. Those in our administrative team who can work remotely to fulfill vital financial, human resources, and communications functions have been working at home. Of course, we need staff on the retail floor and in the kitchen to continue the critical service we provide to the community. In addition to actions described in previous communications, these are further steps we’re taking to support employees:

  • We have suspended our attendance policy expectations and are permitting anyone who feels like they need to stay home to do so.
  • Staff are permitted to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves. We are providing gloves to employees. Some employees have their own personal supply of this protective gear. It has been widely publicized that masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, and others forms of protective gear are in very short supply. As they are manufactured, items are being directed to first fulfill needs in healthcare settings. Due to this shortage, we have not been able to source masks or face shields for We are actively trying to obtain these items.
  • We have installed plexiglass barriers at most registers in the West End store and we’re working on barrier installations at our additional locaitons. It takes time to source materials, manufacture, and install the barriers.
  • We are allowing for a staff-only shopping before we open to the public. For staff who are eligible to charge their groceries, their charge limit has been raised to $150.
  • Hourly employees can accrue 15-minutes of personal time for every hour worked in the store. This is in addition to paid time off that staff can use from their existing banks and the additional 2 weeks of paid sick time that GreenStar is providing to every active GreenStar employee, including our substitute workforce. This benefit is valued at a minimum of $3.45 extra per hour worked.
  • Both Federal and State lawmakers recently implemented measures to provide additional paid leave to employees affected by COVID-19. We expect to have more details about what has been decided, and how it impacts GreenStar by the beginning of next week.

Again, I want to express my thanks to our community, our customers, and our amazing staff for pulling together in this time of crisis. I truly hope that GreenStar can be a leader in our community by responding thoughtfully with a measured approach. I completely understand that some of the steps we’ve had to take over the past couple of weeks will be disappointing to some. Please know that our team is working around the clock to stay abreast of recommendations from the CDC, DOH, and mandates from our state and federal government, and we are in ongoing conversations to determine safe and equitable solutions to the challenges we are all facing. I sincerely appreciate the patience, kindness, and cooperation that has been demonstrated through this experience. I will continue to provide updates. Wishing you all good health.

In cooperation,

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted  on March 25, 2020

A Healthy Co-op – Continued Response to COVID-19

Dear Member-Owners, Volunteers, and Shoppers,

The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 turned our collective reality upside down in a matter of weeks. The rapid deconstruction of our world view has brought about a level of clarity that had previously evaded us and has shown us what is truly fundamental in our lives. Our community needs stability and it needs to eat. GreenStar is working to meet these needs for tens of thousands of people. We understand the very real and urgent concern for employee and customer health as well as the science behind the preventative approach of social distancing.

GreenStar has adopted a plan to move forward, taking these critical concerns into account. This is the time for all of us – member-owners, shoppers, and staff – to rally together to help GreenStar put food on people’s plates while keeping everyone safe.

New Operating Hours

We want to continue to be available to those in the community for whom we are an important resource. To accomplish this, we must adjust schedules at our stores to allow for shopping hours while minimizing the risk of exposure to staff.

Effective Friday, March 27, stores will be open as follows:

West End | 701 W. Buffalo St.
9 am – 6 pm, Daily

DeWitt | 215 N. Cayuga St.
9 am – 6 pm, Daily

Collegetown | 307 College Ave.
8 am – 8 pm, Monday – Friday
9 am – 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday

We continue to ask shoppers to reserve the first hour of operation at all stores for those identified by the CDC as high-risk for serious illness, including people over the age of 60 and people with compromised immune systems.

How Can You Help?

  • Please follow social distancing guidelines. We know this can be especially challenging in smaller store and we thank you for doing your best to help keep us all healthy. We have marked 6-foot distances throughout the store and at checkout lanes.
  • Please do not bring in your reusable grocery bags at this time. We know that for many people, this feels counterintuitive to their natural routine. We hear you — it does for us too! This is one of the many precautionary steps we’re taking to prevent hand to hand contact and protect our staff. We will return to the use of reusable grocery bags as soon as practicable.
  • What we’ve observed is that most shoppers are making fewer trips to the store and purchasing what they need for several days to a week. This is expected, as local and state authorities are urging all of us to stay at home and leave only for essential services. Adopting this personal pattern of shopping is also helpful to our Co-op as it reduces typically heavy foot traffic in the store, but preserves sales. With these larger shops and necessary sanitizing of the checkout area between customers may mean a little extra wait time at checkout. Thank you for your consideration in modifying your shopping habits and for being patient and for being kind through this process.

Staff Recognition

In recognition of their service as a critical workforce, hourly employees who work in our stores will receive essential service worker compensation in addition to their hourly pay, in the form of 1/4 hour of Personal Leave time credit for every hour worked. This benefit is valued at a minimum of $3.45 extra per hour worked, and this leave time that is available immediately for those who earn it. This is an additional form of paycheck protection for staff who are working in the stores through this crisis, want and need to take time off in the future.

Our Communications

If you have missed our regular email updates over the last couple of weeks, I urge you to read more the comprehensive details about operational changes we have made to safely serve you and support our staff during this challenging time, continued below. We will continue to stay in touch through email and social media.

Thank you again for the positive feedback many of you have sent to praise our staff, the actions we have taken, and provide words of encouragement. We hope you agree that the best interests of staff and our customers are central to the steps we’re taking.

Be well,
Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted March 20, 2020:

Dear Member-Owners, Volunteers, and Shoppers,

Thank you for continuing to support your local Co-op! As an essential service, we remain open and ready to serve our community. We have received many emails praising GreenStar staff and expressing appreciation for the actions we have taken so far to fulfill our social responsibility to both feed our community and help mitigate further spread of COVID-19. Your messages of support are especially appreciated and encouraging in these challenging times, and your expressions of thanks have been shared in a recent staff communication. Thank you for your kind words!

A great way that customers can continue to support GreenStar staff and protect one another is to honor the guidelines we are providing here for infection control and social distancing. Below are some further actions we are taking at GreenStar for the benefit of both customers and staff:

High-Risk Customer Shopping Hour

Like many grocery retailers, we are joining in asking customers to consider our first hour of operation reserved for those identified by the CDC as high-risk, including people over the age of 60 and people with compromised immune systems.

Please Practice Social Distancing and Hygienic Precautions While Shopping

  • If you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, please do not come into the store for the safety of others. As a reminder, please practice social distancing when shopping by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself, other shoppers, and employees.
  • As always, please use our sanitizer stations to apply hand sanitizer upon entry and sanitizing wipes provided to wipe cart and basket handles. GreenStar continues to deep clean and sanitize the store and high-touch surfaces as possible throughout the day and after hours.
  • You will see yellow floor markers approximately every 6 ft. throughout the West End store and at our check-out lane. Please use these markers as a guide to help maintain the  appropriate 6’ distance from other customers and staff. At checkout, please stand behind the line until the customer being cashed out is done. Cashiers will sanitize the area before the next customer is allowed to place their groceries and begin the checkout process.
  • Please use credit/debit cards if you can, and if paying in cash, please place money on the signing shelf to eliminate hand to hand contact with the cashier.
  • Please do not bring in your reusable bags. Brown paper bags are available and we are waiving the 5-cent fee until further notice. We are asking shoppers who are able to bag their own groceries to do so to further limit shared handling of product and bags.
  • We will not be providing empty boxes at the end of registers or in the foyer for customer use.

 

Changes for Bulk Foods Shopping

It was a very difficult decision, but we have determined that we need to close the bulk aisle in order to significantly reduce the possibility of exposure in this high contact area. We have created a Grab & Go bulk section in the deli/Aisle 2 area. Over the coming days we will be packaging dry bulk food items to shelve in this area. Small pre-packaged bags of snacks are on shelves in the deli. Liquid bulk items, such as vinegars, oils, and detergents will not be available at this time.


Current Limitations – Special Orders, Holds, Quantities

Please understand that due to limited staffing, the limitations of our facilities, and a rapidly developing situation, there are some programs we need to discontinue for now and also, there are some requests that we cannot accommodate.

  • We are temporarily discontinuing our wholesale and special-order programs.
  • We are not able to shop for our customers.
  • We are not able to hold items for customers.
  • We are not accepting orders or payment over the phone.
  • We have chosen not to enforce limits on quantity of product purchasing at this time. We understand that there are many people who are shopping for themselves as well as family members or friends who are seniors, immunocompromised, or self-quarantining, which both protects people at high-risk and limits the number of people entering the store. We hope our customers will be considerate and mindful in their purchasing. However, we will continue to evaluate this decision and other measures on an on-going basis and notify you of changes or additional practices.

Grocery Delivery

We continue to offer grocery delivery through Instacart. More information is available here.

What is GreenStar Doing for Staff?

The safety and well-being of our staff is our top priority and we know you care about the GreenStar team too. Gov. Cuomo announced March 20 that he will sign an executive order mandating that all employees except for essential services stay home. New York State defines grocery stores as an essential service. Those in our administrative team who can work remotely to fulfill vital financial, human resources, and communications functions have been working at home. Of course, we need staff on the retail floor and in the kitchen to continue the critical service we provide to the community. In addition to actions described in previous communications, these are further steps we’re taking to support employees:

  • We have suspended our attendance policy expectations and are permitting anyone who feels like they need to stay home to do so.
  • Staff are permitted to wear protective gear, such as masks and gloves. We are providing gloves to employees. Some employees have their own personal supply of this protective gear. It has been widely publicized that masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, and others forms of protective gear are in very short supply. As they are manufactured, items are being directed to first fulfill needs in healthcare settings. Due to this shortage, we have not been able to source masks or face shields for staff. We are actively trying to obtain these items.
  • We have installed plexiglass barriers at most registers in the West End store and we’re working on barrier installations at our satellite stores. It takes time to source materials, manufacture, and install the barriers, so this may take a few days.
  • We are allowing for staff-only shopping hours from 7 AM to 8 AM before we open to the public. For staff who are eligible to charge their groceries, their charge limit has been raised to $150.
  • Staff who are working in the stores can accrue 15-minutes of personal time for every hour worked. This is in addition to paid time off that staff can use from their existing banks and the additional 2 weeks of paid sick time that GreenStar is providing to every active GreenStar employee, including our substitute workforce.
  • Both Federal and State lawmakers recently implemented measures to provide additional paid leave to employees affected by COVID-19. We expect to have more details about what has been decided, and how it impacts GreenStar by the beginning of next week.
  • We are expediting our hiring process for temporary staff assignments to help with cleaning, sanitizing, stocking shelves, packaging food, and other duties.

Again, I want to express my thanks to our community, our customers, and our amazing staff for pulling together in this time of crisis. I truly hope that GreenStar can be a leader in our community by responding thoughtfully with a measured approach. I completely understand that some of the steps we’ve had to take over the past couple of weeks will be disappointing. Please know that our team is working around the clock to stay abreast of recommendations from the CDC, DOH, and mandates from our state and federal government, and we are in ongoing conversations to determine safe and equitable solutions to the challenges we are all facing. Thank you for being patient as we are committed to first communicating with our staff and then notifying our member-owners, volunteers, and customers of changes we need to make. I sincerely appreciate the patience, kindness, and cooperation that has been demonstrated through this experience. I will continue to provide updates.

Wishing you all good health.

In cooperation,

Brandon Kane, General Manager

Posted March 17, 2020:

Dear GreenStar Member-Owners, Shoppers, and Volunteers:

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of your local Co-op. Recommended responses to COVID-19 for grocery retailers have evolved significantly since our last update and I want to inform you of additional changes that have been made.

Change to Store Hours

Effective Tuesday, March 17 and until further notice, we are adjusting our store hours. Our West End store at 701 W. Buffalo Street will operate daily 8 AM to 8 PM. Our Collegetown and DeWitt stores will operate Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 8 PM and Saturday/Sunday 9 AM – 8 PM. Reducing our hours will allow our staff the time needed for rigorous cleaning and disinfection of our stores. The change will also allow us to support a schedule that can accommodate the likelihood of reduced staffing over the next several weeks.

NYS Mandates

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have mandated the closure of sit-down service in restaurants, pubs, and bars among other businesses and permitting these businesses to offer takeout service only. I want to assure people that GreenStar does not fall into these categories. Grocery stores are considered a necessary service and as such, we have been told that we will be allowed to continue to operate, along with other essential services.

If at some point, New York State institutes a curfew, we will adjust our operating hours accordingly and communicate to you any changes.

Operational Changes

GreenStar has taken many steps so far to ensure immediate health and safety of our staff and customers. We continue to take action as new recommendations are made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Some of the steps we have already taken, include:

  • Increased routine cleaning and disinfection of high-risk locations at all store locations.
  • Closing eating areas at all of our store locations to encourage social distancing.
  • Closing our deli service case and self-serve food and beverage stations at all of our store locations. Coffee and juice orders are not available from the deli service case. Pre-packaged prepared foods such as sandwiches, bowls, soups, salads, and heat & serve entrees are still available.
  • Closing the children’s play area at our West End store.
  • Closing the Massage Station at our West End store.
  • Suspending all sampling – both self-serve and supervised.
  • Removing all tester products from our store shelves.
  • Promoting proper hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Removed fill-your-own herbs. Pre-packaged herbs are available. Please ask our staff for assistance in this area.

Effective March 17, we are also taking the following steps effective immediately to help reinforce social distancing and help make the shopping experience easier and healthier for you and our staff:

Bulk Foods

Bulk is a high-touch area. We are asking for your help to prevent the spread of germs. Please observe the following at this time:

  • Use bags provided in bulk to package foods. Do not bring bags and containers from home.
  • Use gloves provided in the bulk section when packing foods.
  • Dispose of gloves in wastebaskets provided.

Shopping for Others

We understand that many people are avoiding travel and crowded areas and may ask friends or family to shop at the Co-op for them. Through April 15, as an exception to our individual membership policy, member-owners may provide their membership card or member-owner number to the person they are designating to shop for them. We will continue to assess the situation and communicate any additional changes to member-owner guidelines.

Co-op Volunteer Program

We are suspending volunteer work for in-store retail support through March 30. We have communicated further details with volunteers and we’ll continue to assess the situation and communicate decisions in regard to this program.

Addressing Questions on Limitations and Delivery

We have received many questions about imposing limits on the quantity of items you can purchase, designating hours to particular segments of customers, and grocery delivery.

  • At this time, we are not imposing quantity limits on items. Please make thoughtful decisions about what your family needs and be considerate of fellow shoppers.
  • We will continue to remain open to all during operating hours.
  • GreenStar does not have the infrastructure for staff to do personal shopping and provide curbside pickup or delivery. We are currently partnered with Instacart for online grocery orders and delivery. We understand there has been a tremendous increase of Instacart use, so delivery times are a bit slower and you may find more items out of stock. We are working as fast as we can to keep our shelves stocked.

Caring for Our Staff

The consideration shoppers have demonstrated for our staff is greatly appreciated. GreenStar employees are working incredibly hard to ensure that the public has access to food and household supplies that we all need. Many people have asked how we are supporting our staff through this situation. We communicate with staff regularly as this situation develops.

  • We have instructed all employees that if they feel sick, they must stay home. Also, if an employee has a family member that is sick, we ask that the employee stay home.
  • We have suspended our Attendance Expectations policy relative to symptoms or illness associated with COVID-19.
  • We are creating solutions to ensure paycheck protection for our employees. We have provided two additional weeks of paid sick time for our employees, which is available immediately.
  • Supervisors are working with GreenStar employees who self-identify as being in a high-risk category as defined by the CDC to accommodate schedules that reduce their interaction with the public, or work from home if the responsibilities of their position allow for working remotely.
  • You may see staff in our stores wearing gloves or masks. We are permitting the use of protective gear for staff who feel comfortable wearing it and for some positions, we are mandating the use of protective gear.

Communications

We will continue to update you on any changes to operations or requests of our shoppers or relevant to COVID-19. We are also using our social media pages for immediate announcements. Please be aware that some of our traditional communications such as sales flyers and newsletters may be reduced or change in the coming weeks. We’ll continue to make communication with our GreenStar community a priority.

We understand this is a difficult time for all, but please know that your local Co-op remains open and available to assist you. We are working hard to maintain business operations as we continue to uphold our democratic election process this spring and implement our plans for relocation to 770 Cascadilla Street. There is a great deal to be excited about for the future and we remain focused on bringing you a new GreenStar Food Co-op. Thank you for being patient, respectful, and kind to one another during this stressful time and thank you for supporting your local Co-op.

Warmly,

Brandon

Posted March 12, 2020:

Message to Members

A Healthy Co-op – Responding to COVID-19

Dear GreenStar Member-Owners, Shoppers, and Volunteers,

Continued news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York State and nationwide is concerning. Since this virus is very new, the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working hard to learn as much about this new virus as possible, so that everyone can better understand how it spreads and causes illness. GreenStar is routinely monitoring information provided by various reputable sources and taking precautions accordingly for the health of our shoppers and staff.

As a grocery store, we are in in the unique position of offering essential services for our communities while also doing all we can to minimize risk to our staff, member-owners, and shoppers. The following is a list of actions GreenStar has taken to best serve you, care for our staff, and be a responsible member of our community:

Staff Support

We are advising staff to stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, or fever to help prevent potential spread of infection. GreenStar has a generous paid time off policy and will continue to be creative and ask people to come together as a community to help find cooperative solutions and avenues. We have received questions regarding what GreenStar will do if any of our stores are shut down by Civil Authority. Please know that there is no insurance available for businesses to purchase that would cover losses as a result of businesses interruption due to a pandemic. We will absolutely take care of our employees. Please click here to view the communication that was mailed to employees on March 12 regarding how GreenStar plans to handle staff absences and compensation if Coronavirus hits our community. We hope you find this helpful to understanding the significant measures GreenStar already has in place relative to paycheck protection for our employees.

Store and Workplace Cleanliness

  • We have contracted with a service provider to clean our flagship store at 701 W. Buffalo St. and office areas three days a week. Additionally, we have increased the frequency of sanitizing shopping cart handles, shopping baskets, payment machines, door handles, and other high-touch locations.
  • We are reminding all people at GreenStar to be vigilant about hand washing, and have increased signage on proper handwashing technique and hygienic practices to prevent the spread of germs.
  • We have installed hand sanitizing stations around the store for public use and we have provided office areas with a supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  • We are changing out food tongs and other frequently touched utensils at our hot bar, salad bar, and bulk bins every hour, so they can be sanitized.

GreenStar is also taking the following steps effective immediately and until further notice. These changes are at the recommendation of the CDC and other health agencies and are intended to be temporary.

  • We are not permitting the use of personal containers for beverages or prepared foods. Please use containers and cups provided at food and beverage stations, or by staff at the deli service case. For now, we will continue to allow personal containers and bags to be used for bulk foods and eggs.
  • We are removing our children’s play area in the West End store.
  • We will not offer self-serve sampling. For now, we will continue to offer sampling supervised by GreenStar staff who have completed food safety training.
  • We are discontinuing the use of cloth towels to prevent contamination. In the meantime, paper towels will be used.
  • Our Bring Your Own Bag, Use It for Good! program will continue; however, we are eliminating the use of wooden tokens. These tokens will be replaced in the near future with tokens made from sustainable materials that can be regularly washed and sanitized. Until then, GreenStar will fulfill its donation commitment to selected BYOB charity recipients. We encourage you to bring your own bag and suggest cleaning reusable bags according to manufacturer instructions.

We sincerely appreciate your understanding that these actions are being taken for the safety of customers, staff, and volunteers. We anticipate that guidance from federal, state and local agencies may change rapidly over the coming days and weeks. We will continue to monitor closely and be nimble in adjusting our operations to prioritize the health and safety of you and our staff.

For those who may benefit from grocery delivery, GreenStar offers delivery through Instacart. Learn more here. If you are member-owner planning on stocking up on food and water, we can order cases for you at a 5% discount. Place a case order or special order in-person by asking a staff member, calling the store (607) 273-9392, or emailing grocery@greenstar.coop with your request.

We know you have choices when it comes to where to shop. Thank you for choosing your local co-op. We continue to communicate regularly with our staff, member-owners, and shoppers throughout this situation and sincerely appreciate your patience, support, and cooperation.  Now, more than ever, is the time to band together as a cooperative and take care of each other. Please help to spread factual information instead of rumors and feel free to reach out by email to askus@greenstar.coop if you have questions or suggestions.

Posted March 5, 2020:

The news about the Coronavirus spreading in our country is concerning. Since this virus is very new, the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working hard to learn as much about this new virus as possible, so that everyone can better understand how it spreads and causes illness.  Your co-op is closely monitoring the situation and taking precautions for the health of our shoppers and staff.

We have stepped up frequency of sanitizing door handles and other surfaces and will be installing several additional hand sanitizing stations around our stores. We are reminding employees to be vigilant about hand washing and are asking anyone with cold or flu symptoms to stay home.

Co-op member-owners can place special orders. If you are planning on stocking up on food and water, let us know and we can order cases for you. Most items will arrive within a few days. There is a 5% discount on cases. You can special order a case in-person by asking a staff member, calling the store (607) 273-9392, or emailing grocery@greenstar.coop with your request.

Grocery delivery from GreenStar through Instacart is also an option. Learn more here.