As farmers markets begin opening across Minnesota, farmers and market managers are creatively adding health and safety measures to continue providing access to local foods during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Wadena Farmers Market news release.

Following the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's guidance for farmers markets and vendors, the Wadena Farmers Market has made the following changes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 including:

  • Having all vendors wear masks or face shields;

  • Creating physical barriers to separate staff, vendors and customers including placing additional tables in front of the produce;

  • Setting up hand washing stations for vendors and shoppers;

  • Vendors will try to bag produce prior to market time for less handling;

  • Limiting the number of people allowed to shop at one time, when necessary.

Additionally, the safety guidelines for shoppers include:

  • Stay home if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who has been sick.

  • Shop solo, if possible only send one family member.

  • Encouraging but not enforcing customers to wear a mask, shield or scarf over their mouth and to wash their hands.

  • Make a grocery list for a quicker visit.

  • Do not eat food at the market. All food must be taken home or off the market site.

  • Watch for Facebook announcements from the Wadena Farmers Market for updates on produce availability and other information that might lead to a better prepared shopping trip.

  • Don't touch products. Let vendors grab the items you wish to purchase.

  • Limit time spent at the market. Wadena Farmers Market's new motto is "Get in. Get your goodies. Get back home."

  • Maintain 6 feet social distancing at all times and watch for traffic flow signs.

  • Come with small bills to decrease the need for vendors handling money. If change is needed, ask at EBT/SNAP booth.

  • Reusable bags are allowed if they are kept off vendor tables.

The Wadena Farmers Market will continue to offer SNAP/EBT sales and the Market Bucks Program through Hunger Solutions, which allows SNAP participants to double their money up to $10 (thus receiving $20 to spend) by using their EBT card. Shoppers can double their money once every market day for the season. Market bucks can be used that day or later in the season on food items, according to the release.

How does the coronavirus spread?

The coronavirus spreads from person-to-person by respiratory droplets in coughs, sneezes and when a person talks. Another person can have the droplets land in their nose or mouth or inhale them into their lungs. The droplets are spread when people are in “close contact,” which the CDC defines as within about six feet. The CDC says the coronavirus which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 is “spreading very easily.”

There is "no evidence" that the virus spreads due to food, and touching a packaging container or other surface or object is "low risk," according to the CDC. It is still important to wash your hands before preparing or eating food.