First Alternative Adds Staff Pay and Benefits, Reduces Hours

Yesterday, the First Alternative Natural Foods Coop announced adjusted hours and other actions they are taking in response to the Covid-19 epidemic. Starting Tuesday, March 23 the coop’s opening hours will be from 9 A.M. to 7 P.M. to ensure “adequate staffing”  and to keep up with cleaning and sanitizing the store.   

First Alternative’s salad and hot food bar are closed until further notice, but individually wrapped baked goods, to-go coffee, and the “Grab & Go ” section are still available. The Coop said they are working on ways to include some of the popular hot bar items in individual and family-sized packaging. Although the coop cannot refill outside coffee mugs during the epidemic, they announced they plan to continue to honor the $1 pricing through the end of March.  

Co-op increases staff pay and benefits in Covid-19 response: In addition to the change in opening hours, First Alternative announced they will provide all staff a “Community Hero” bonus which they say is equivalent to an extra $2 per hour retroactive from March 1.   

“We want to express our sincere gratitude to our staff, who are truly the backbone of the Co-op’s ability to provide for our community,” according to the coop’s website. “They are on the front line, bravely showing up each and every day to make a difference. Here’s what we’re doing to support our amazing team of staff.”  

The Coop also announced they will provide an extra two weeks paid time off for staff who are quarantined, sick, or caring for members of their families in addition to their staff’s regular paid leave. In addition, the coop announced partial paid leave for other circumstances, for instance, up tan additional ten weeks at 75% of normal wages for individuals should it be needed More details can be found at the Coop’s Covid-19 Information page  

“We are grateful to be a part of this resilient, which has come together to show support for each other during this time of need.” According to an announcement the coop posted on Facebook and Instagram: “We are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to follow state and federal regulations to ensure that we continue to play a role in keeping the community safe and healthy.”  

By Samantha Sied