Minnesota has classified “food distribution workers” as emergency employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, making them eligible for certain benefits.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order that provides childcare for school-age children of emergency workers, which now encompasses “food distribution workers,” including food production personnel, employees at food distribution centers and in-store personnel.
“Care for children of educators, gas and electric utility workers, food distribution personnel, water treatment staff, and others outlined below is essential to ensuring the public continues to receive these vital services,” the executive order reads. “Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children of workers in the areas below, if they are able to do so while adhering to the Minnesota Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines.”
Vermont has indicated it would do the same. Gov. Phil Scott issued a directive that encouraged childcare centers to stay open where needed to provide services for the state’s emergency workers, which includes health care workers, criminal justice personnel, first responders, public health employees, National Guard workers and some state employees.
Currently, the guidance does not specifically define food workers as emergency personnel. But state public safety commissioner Michael Schirling said that grocery store workers and others who work in food distribution are considered essential and that he expected them to be added to the list of emergency workers soon.