The Downtown Hays Market (DHM) operated by Downtown Hays Development Corporation (DHDC), is an essential service and will be opening as scheduled for the season on May 30.


“DHDC has put significant thought into the safety of the DHM customers and vendors during a time when everyone is prioritizing the health of their loved ones above all,” Allie Glidewell Director of Events and Operations said. “We have been on the phone with other market directors, the police department, and health department to make sure we open safely and successfully.”


In response to Public Health direction, DHDC has incorporated a few safety recommendations for guests to follow. Hand washing stations will be available under the pavilion so vendors and customers can wash their hands frequently without walking to the nearby restroom facilities. Vendors will be required to wear masks during these first weeks of operation. Customers are encouraged to wear a mask and observe social distancing by remaining 6 feet apart from other guests and vendors. Consider using credit and debit over cash. Finally, customers should allow vendors to handle merchandise, even if you intend to purchase the product.


Out of state vendors will not be allowed to sell at the 2020 market. The market staff is also keeping an eye on high risk counties and limiting vendors from those areas as well.


“An unfortunate safety precaution is that we will not be serving free coffee from Breathe Coffee House at this time,” Glidewell said. “We encourage you to make Breathe your first stop to grab a cup of joe before coming to see us.”


To help accommodate customers who might not be ready to interact with the public, DHM will be offering a drive-through system for its customers. Three stalls in the parking lot just to the west of the pavilion will be reserved for this service. Customers can call the market and vendors prior to arriving to place their order. Orders will then be brought to their cars.


Customers can also just pull up and let the market manager know their order, provide payment, and remain in their vehicle while the order is filled.


While there are necessary implementations, DHM is excited to open and provide an essential service. This year, the market will further benefit the Hays community by accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


“We are so excited to offer SNAP as a service of the Downtown Hays Market,” Sara Bloom executive director said. “It’s actually something we’ve been trying to offer for some time and thanks to Allie it’s a reality. She was able to find the correct path and even secure a grant that allowed us to receive the necessary equipment for free.”


The grant was received from MarketLink. MarketLink is the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Program’s (NAFMNP) complete solution for electronic payments at farmers markets nationwide. The mission is to cultivate opportunities for consumers to buy fresh produce from local growers. MarketLink is a long-term vision of sustainability for farmers and markets through a broader customer base, increased sales, and profitability. The grant provided upwards of $5,000 in equipment and waived fees to the DHM.


SNAP is a government program provided by the US Department of Agriculture that helps to end food insecurity in communities across America. “DHDC understands how tight income has become for many families in Hays. We are proud to introduce such a great program into our Downtown community as more families are unsure of how to put fresh and wholesome food on their tables” said Glidewell.


If you are already a part of the SNAP program, it will be simple to use your SNAP EBT Card at the Market. Bring your SNAP EBT Card to the DHM Information Booth before you shop to redeem Market tokens. These tokens can be spent at vendor booths who sell products including: meats, cheese, eggs, honey, fruits, veggies and more. If you would like to apply for the SNAP program, visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap to determine the eligibility of you or your family.


“With everything that has happened in the last few months there is an excitement about the opening of the market that there hasn’t been before,” Bloom said. “There’s always some excitement, but it’s kind of just off the charts right now. We are expecting new vendors, familiar and loved vendors, amazing products and just a wonderful time gathering - from a safe distance — once again.”