Responding to COVID-19
It’s hard to imagine the world before COVID-19, yet we are deeply aware of how it has changed. As we navigate in these uncertain times, our north star remains our vision to inspire and share the joy of baking, building stronger and healthier communities. Community is a word you hear a lot. It speaks to connections, to support, to togetherness. There cannot be a more important time than now to be coming together to do all that we can to help one another, our families, our neighbors, and our communities.
As always, we start and end with doing all that we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers and our fellow employee-owners. As an essential food business, we remain open and follow closely the recommended practices provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure the highest level of protection to all of our employee-owners, especially those who cannot work from home.
Amidst this crisis requiring us to stay home as much as possible, baking has become a bit of national pastime – for people who have never picked up a whisk to those who have made it their life’s work. We certainly believe baking brings people together, brings joy, and can simply be a great source of comfort at any time, but more than ever in these incredibly challenging times. So we hope you’re able to enjoy a freshly baked loaf of bread or the pure delight of a warm chocolate chip cookie.
Stay hopeful. Remain resolute. Together, we’ll move through this. Please continue to follow CDC guidelines for remaining safe and healthy.
Below you will find important information about the critical ways we are working to address this crisis.
Karen Colberg & Ralph Carlton
Co-CEOs, King Arthur Baking Company
- Safety and Wellness Measures
Safety is our priority: your safety as well as that of our employee-owners.
We’ve built a strong network of protections around our team members, beginning with the best safeguard available — social distancing. This has taken the form of many of our team working from home and includes the rapid mobilization of new resources to make off-site work possible for many who would have previously been unequipped to do so. For those whose roles simply can’t be translated away from our facilities, such as production and fulfillment, we’ve rearranged work spaces and schedules to promote person-to-person distance.
In addition to this, we’ve enhanced our already robust cleanliness processes by:
- Increasing sanitization frequency for our buildings and equipment
- Providing more hand sanitizer stations in active areas
- Reinforcing education on thorough hand washing and personal hygiene techniques
- Wearing of cloth masks within our facilities and rubber gloves during product handling
- Monitoring movement within our buildings to both prevent illness and enable us to take precise action should anyone become ill despite every precaution being taken
We also recognize that there’s more to protecting our team than just physical proximity and cleanliness. During this time of nationwide instability, security for one’s livelihood is paramount. Our Leadership and Human Resources teams have assembled a portfolio of benefits and policies to help protect the jobs and income of King Arthur employee-owners. These solutions include:
- Significantly extending the length of guaranteed paid time off
- Extending new time off benefits to cover caring for dependents facing health or schedule disruptions, including children whose schools have closed or other reliant family
- Cross-training those ready to work, but whose normal roles are paused, so that they can assist areas of our company facing greater levels of demand
- Increasing access to telehealth resources for both physical and mental health
Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state health authorities have been, and will continue to be, our team’s primary sources for information on safety and best practices as we face the challenges posed by Covid-19. We’ll continue to use these recommendations as the framework of our decision making to ensure safety remains the priority in all our efforts.
- Supporting our Community
For us, baking has always been about strengthening the bonds of community. There’s no more fundamental example of people coming together than the timeless mainstay of a group circling around a warm fire, passing food from one to the other. In difficult times like these, our greatest supports are the people around us who care for each other and extend a hand when others need it most.
In this effort, we’ve launched a new aid program called For Goodness Bakes, a lighthearted name for an important initiative to keep bakeries running during financially challenging times. To do this, we’re directing tens of thousands of dollars to directly purchase bread and other baked goods from King Arthur bakery customers, which they then distribute to areas of need within their local communities — food pantries, organizations that support unemployed food service workers, homeless populations, and more.
Our employee-owners have also leapt to the task of addressing other needs in our own local community around Norwich, VT:
- A sewing collective among us have put needle and thread to the task of making hundreds of cloth masks for health care workers, our own team members who continue to safely perform essential roles at our own facilities, and others in need
- Putting our Café Sous Chef on an extended volunteer assignment to manage daily takeout meals, organize food deliveries, and coordinate food drops for our local food shelf program
- Donating thousands of fresh-baked breads and other baked goods to local food shelves and shelters
We’ve also directed more time and energy towards developing free educational resources in our social media channels. From our approachable and uplifting father + son baking series Martin Bakes at Home, to our instructional kid-focused Bake for Good videos, to our weekly Facebook Live Isolation Baking Show with accomplished bakers Jeffrey Hamelman and Gesine Bullock-Prado, along with running Q&As, publishing new recipes, and increasing our blog posting frequency, we seek to provide for an especially urgent combination of needs: no-cost, quality baking education and recipes, and places where people can feed their yearning for community in a setting that’s friendly, uplifting, and supportive.
- Product Availability on our Website
You’ve probably witnessed empty flour shelves at your grocery store and backordered items on our website. Demand for these products has sharply multiplied in past weeks, outpacing the speed at which new products can be created and delivered even as our mills run at full capacity and we’ve added another mill to the King Arthur family. We’re working closely with our mills and partners to support rapid production schedules within an environment of safety.
We will continually evaluate all resources available to us and creatively pursue additional solutions as we seek to provide the best service possible while overcoming the challenges posed by Covid-19.
- Order Shipping Times
Due to unprecedented levels of ordering through our website, maxed capacity among national carriers (including our shipper, FedEx), and more caution applied to all procedures in response to Covid-19, customers should be prepared for delays in receiving their orders.
We’ve temporarily introduced the following measures to help your order ship as quickly as possible:s
- Suspended shipments to Canada and other international locations
- Secured the services of an extra fulfillment partner to pack and ship orders
- Added shifts in our warehouse to the extent that we’re able to do so safely
Know that our team is working diligently to provide you with the best experience we possibly can under the exceptional conditions we all find ourselves in. You can rely on us to continue finding creative solutions to challenging problems like these while prioritizing health and well-being.
- Product Availability in Grocery Stores
By now, you’ve probably witnessed empty flour shelves at your grocery store and backordered items on our website. Demand for these products has sharply multiplied in past weeks, outpacing the speed at which new product can be created and delivered even as our mills run at full capacity. In some cases, getting more product onto shelves has been delayed within stores themselves as many struggle with fewer staff, reduced hours, and other challenges related to Covid-19.
Our supply chain and logistics team is actively working with stores and distributors across the country to get our flour back on the shelves of grocery stores and national retailers.
To help address these challenges:
- Our mills have extended their working hours by introducing additional shifts
- We’ve welcomed a new partner mill to the King Arthur production family
- We’ve shifted parts of our distribution network from rail to truck, quickening transit time
You can rely on our team to continually evaluate all resources available to us and pursue additional solutions as we seek to provide the best service possible while overcoming the challenges posed by Covid-19.
- Baking School and our Norwich Store & Café
In support of the health and well-being of our customers, community, and our team of employee-owners, we have made some adjustments at our Baking School and Café & Store. Find the most up-to-date information here.
We thank you for your understanding and for working with us to pursue a safe, healthy environment for all. We plan to reintroduce normal operations and programs once we’re confident this time of heightened risk has passed.