Please check back regularly. We will be adding Q & A throughout this pandemic.
With a stay at home order in effect in Minnesota, can non-food vendors sell at markets? (ie - crafts, bedding plants, flowers, dog treats, etc.)
It is a market-by-market decision at this time. However, many markets are choosing to allow only food vendors and others products deemed "essential" during this pandemic. If a market chooses to allow food-only vendors, managers may wish to make exceptions for vendors who sell both food and non-essential items, especially as these non-essential items might help support growers during the mid-to-late spring before fresh produce is ready to be brought to market.
A market may also need to limit vendors to only food vendors if the physical location of the market is not large enough to provide enough room to space vendor stalls at least 6' apart - to ensure customers have enough space to stand 6' apart.
Are markets advised to cancel non-essential activities like performances, kids programming, and special events?
Yes. Unfortunately there is a wide consensus from markets around the state and country that the best line of attack is to cancel non-essential activities at this time. Markets in Minnesota are allowed to stay open because we are considered an essential service to provide food to the public. We hope in the near future to be able to recommend bringing back all the additional activities that make markets in Minnesota so wonderful - beyond having the most delicious local food around!
What are the recommendations regarding face-masks and gloves and other materials?
Gloves are not considered necessary. Good regular hand-washing is sufficient for both vendors and customers. The CDC does recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing is more difficult to maintain. MFMA encourages both vendors and customers to consider this CDC recommendation. See the follow CDC information on face coverings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
Who can we contact for support developing additional market signage on new rules and regulations? Are there funds to help support additional market signs?
MFMA will be developing information on this site for assistance with both messaging and signage ideas. Check back for more information.
In addition, Minnesota Grown has their great Cost Share Program, where members are eligible for up to $200 in reimbursements for labeling and signage. Membership in this program is only $20! For more information, visit: https://minnesotagrown.com/members-retailers/cost-share-program/
What new processes are required? Suggested?
Food sampling at markets is currently banned with the new order in Minnesota and should be immediately suspended. Plans to follow social distancing of 6 feet need to be in place (just as they are required for grocery stores). Handwashing stations need to be available and utilized abundantly, so that means planning for more potable water and proper disposal of the waste water (can't be dumped on the ground or in the storm sewer - needs to be down a SANITARY sewer) and paper towels. No onsite food consumption is allowed (but ready-to-eat foods can be sold as long as they are packaged for take-out). Numerous other recommendations abound - check out the MFMA Market Guidance page for more information.
Requirements for handwashing stations?
Handwashing stations are not required but are highly recommended! They can be either high or low-tech. Minimally you need a container with a turn-on/flip-up faucet or spigot (not push button - it needs to flow freely without needing to be touched continuously), soap, potable water (drinkable), single use towels, and a way to catch the water. You can make low-tech options yourself or purchase more expensive options including no-touch/foot pedal. Typically full units are sold online, but these options are currently difficult to find.
Luckily the DIY options still work well and are available at a reasonable cost. Reach out to Director of Membership Services Jesse Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for help on how to create low-cost handwashing stations (about $35 with all-new parts) and consider asking if a community business, government entity or organization might be willing to sponsor it!
How does SNAP/EBT work at drive-thru and other alternate model markets?
When using SNAP to purchase food, the exchange of goods has to occur within 14 days of the time of the transaction. Cardholders must be present and must physically enter their PIN. Therefore, monetary transactions cannot be managed remotely. SNAP customers can certainly arrange with vendors or markets to purchase SNAP-eligible items outside of market hours, but at the moment, the best option is to process the SNAP transaction at the time of pick-up/delivery. Changes to this may be coming. Check back regularly for updates.
Market Bucks, the $1 for $1 match SNAP incentive at MN farmers' markets, is still going strong in 2020! Hunger Solutions (who manages the Market Bucks Program) has offered to send as many new Market Bucks cards/tokens to markets as needed to offset potential COVID-19 contamination.
What are the best ways to clean certain commonly used items at markets? Wood and plastic tokens, market bucks cards, etc.? (heat, UV wands, time, chemical disinfectants, etc.?)
This is a great question. There are many ideas and suggestions out there, but we want to give answers based on tested science. We have reached out to the MN Dept. of Health for assistance with this. We hope to have answers for you soon.
Is customer seating allowed at markets?
To provide both maximum space for vendors and customers, and to keep the flow of traffic moving as quickly as possible, and unfortunately to discourage gathering, it is our recommendation to remove customer seating and encourage shoppers to make their purchases quickly and get in and out of the market as efficiently as possible.
Is on-site food consumption allowed?
No. On-site food consumption is not allowed at this time. That does NOT mean that ready-to-eat foods like bread cannot be sold. Such food should be wrapped or packaged for the taking and consumed off-site. This also carries for vendors like food trucks - food can be sold as long as it is packaged and taken off-site for consumption. Keep in mind these regulations are subject to change!
How many people can be at a market and maintain 6' social distancing?
Check out this formula from the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) for assistance determining your market capacity: Number_people_per_market_space_FINAL.pdf
We are continually updating the MFMA COVID-19 pages on our website. Please check back regularly for updates.
Are hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations required at farmers' markets?
It is not a requirement to provide hand-washing or sanitizing stations for customers. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidance from the Center for Disease Control states that hand-washing is one of the best ways for individuals to protect themselves. They recommend “Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.” Therefore, though neither are required, hand-washing stations are strongly recommended with sanitizing stations as an alternative when hand-washing in not possible. See Guidance for Markets for more information.
If a customer touches a product, must it be thrown away?
All entities producing and selling food in Minnesota have the responsibility to ensure that it is not unsafe and unsanitary. Per the CDC “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” It is not a requirement for a vendor to throw away a product just because someone touches it, however vendors should assess the potential degree of contamination from a customer and determine the degree of risk involved and make a non-discriminatory judgement. Did a customer touch it? Did a customer bring it to their face and smell it? Did a customer cough or sneeze on it? etc.
Are masks or shields required at market?
Whether or not you require masks is a decision of your market, however the CDC does currently recommend all Americans wear cloth masks in public. Face shields are a viable alternative to masks. If you don't like cloth masks, are touching your face more, a face shield is a good alternative and may be more comfortable and allow for better communication.