New Fareway Takes Strong Stance on Underage Sales

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Innovate Approach Requires Training and Management Oversight

By: Jeffrey Meyers, Certified Prevention Specialist in collaboration with the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition

The Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition would like to extend its appreciation for Anamosa’s recently opened Fareway Grocery store on its proactive approach to preventing underage drinking, and its commitment to responsible service. This is demonstrated by its requirement that all clerks below 18 years of age get management approval prior to an alcohol sale, in addition to the mandated checking of all identification for persons appearing below 40 years of age. These policies, along with its mandated alcohol service training, make it stand out among other businesses in the community, going above and beyond what State law and regulations require. For this reason, Anamosa’s Fareway is most deserving of the Coalition’s Business Recognition Award as a valued partner in preventing underage drinking.

Unbeknownst to many, Iowa is the only state in the Midwest in which a minor as young as 16 can sell alcohol in an off-premise establishment, meaning grocery and convenience stores where the alcohol is consumed in a place other than the business. All bordering states require persons selling alcohol be at least 18 years of age, with North Dakota and Kansas setting the minimum age at 21.

Allowing minors to sell alcohol can put them in an especially vulnerable position if a friend or familiar face from school attempts to purchase while underage, with adolescents being especially susceptible to the many forms of peer pressure. In addition, minors at this age may not have the fully developed confidence or experience with asking for identification, or noticing red flags that may be apparent such that an alcohol sale would be improper, such as signs of intoxication from a patron. For this reason, many stores feel the need to put a policy in place to safeguard against such concerns, with Fareway’s being one of the strongest. While it still employs 16 and 17 year olds, allowing them valuable work experience, its requirement that a manager, or, if unavailable, an 18 year old clerk facilitate an alcohol sale both negates these concerns, while also not taking away from the employment opportunities teens need.

Fareway also has all staff aged 18 and above complete the online I-PACT training, offered by Iowa’s Alcohol Beverages Division. Such training, done freely and online, reinforces the proper way to examine identification, raises awareness of the liability concerns involved, and provides much needed education on the rules and regulations regarding alcohol sales. This, combined with its strong policies, help to foster a culture that is not only oriented toward customer service, but also social responsibility.

A survey done by the Coalition previously found that many Jones County convenience stores already had an informal practice of not allowing 16 year olds to sell alcohol, but that such a practice was not true of the grocery stores at that time. Some businesses indicated that such a policy could be a burden or slow things down. While such concerns are valid, businesses like Fareway prove that this doesn’t have to be the case, especially when implemented from the start and supported by training.

Any businesses wishing to make improvements regarding their alcohol service policies, or wanting to know what resources are available to them, are encouraged to contact Jeffrey Meyers or Jennifer Husmann with the Area Substance Abuse Council and the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition by calling 319-462-4327 x202.