Preventing the Spread of COVID-19: Farmers Markets Focus on Safety
NASHVILLE — As Tennessee responds to the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers markets are doing their part to supply customers with fresh, local foods. Markets across the state are working to relieve pressure on food distribution channels, while taking safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
It is not believed that COVID-19 is spread through food. However, those who manufacture or sell food should take steps to prevent the spread between food handlers and customers. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture offers information and tips for food handlers online.
“Despite the crisis, Tennessee’s farmers continue to produce safe, fresh, local foods,” Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Farmers markets are an ideal source for fresh vegetables, meats, and food products and are vital to our local communities and economies.”
Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Pick Tennessee Products’ farmers markets are sharing best practices to minimize the risk of illness. These tips may help market managers decide when and if to open, and help markets ensure the safety of vendors and customers. Customers should contact a farmers market before visiting to confirm the market is open. Some markets are enabling customers to place advance orders to minimize time spent at the market. Find a farmers market near you online at www.picktnproducts.org and through the free PickTN mobile app.
Guidance for customers:
· Wash your hands often. If soap and water is unavailable, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
· Don’t congregate in a group. Maintain distance of at least 6 feet between you and others.
· Don’t touch products on display.
· Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
· If you feel sick, do not visit a farmers market.
Guidance for farmers markets:
· Establish relationships with key community partners such as your local health department.
· Increase space between vendors.
· Eliminate sampling at booths.
· Discourage customers from touching products unless they are going to buy them.
· Require vendors to have hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes at their booths.
· Encourage vendors to disinfect payment machines and their hands after touching a customer’s payment card or cash.
· Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
· Suggest that vendors offer a pre-order option to minimize time customers are at the market.
· If a vendor is sick, advise them not to sell at a farmers market.
· Use social media to publicize safety measures in place and to spotlight vendors to emphasize the importance of supporting local farmers and businesses.
You can access the latest information on Tennessee’s response to COVID-19 online at www.tn.gov/governor/covid-19.html.