ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – As the coronavirus pandemic has created an unparalleled and sudden shift to virtual working and learning, people in rural areas now more than ever are feeling the impacts of limited or unreliable internet connectivity. To help its neighbors communicate with friends and relatives, gain access to critical telemedicine services, keep up with schoolwork, and take part in other activities that are now done almost entirely online, WinField United, with the support of its landlord, is making guest Wi-Fi access available in the parking lot of its leased Spencer location to area residents.
This initiative is part of a larger effort by Land O’Lakes, Inc., a member-owned co-op with deep roots across rural America.
“As millions of Americans shift to work and school from home and increasingly look to telehealth for critical healthcare services, the urgent need for internet connectivity in rural America has never been so dire,” said Beth Ford, president & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “Today, we are proud to take the step along with many partners to bridge the gap and provide this critical service to these communities during this crisis. But our efforts now are only a short-term solution for a much bigger problem that people in our rural communities face, even when we are not experiencing a viral pandemic. As a member-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes believes that we are all stronger together, and we are incredibly appreciative of the generosity of our retail-owners during this trying time.”
Members of the community can access Wi-Fi from their cars at 3600 W Milwaukee St, Spencer, IA 51301. The business has designated a portion of its parking lot for Wi-Fi users, which will allow us to maintain normal operations without interruption. To maintain social distancing, guests are asked to stay in their own cars while using this service.
This service is being offered as part of a trial beginning this week. We anticipate it will last through the next six weeks, though it may be suspended or continued as circumstances warrant.
During this unprecedented time, Land O’Lakes is deploying the power of its co-op to make a difference in local communities. As such, this program is part of a broader effort Land O’Lakes is deploying at its facilities across America’s heartland. Land O’Lakes is also offering free Wi-Fi access at additional facilities in local communities across the country. While this is a short-term solution, Land O’Lakes is continuing to advocate for broadband infrastructure investment in rural areas across the country at both the state and federal level to ensure the long-term vitality of rural America.
Ford continued, “If there were a time to band together with and for our rural neighbors – many of whom are critical to feeding our nation – now is that time. I encourage businesses with footprints in rural communities to join us in this small action to connect our rural communities; and I strongly urge state and federal policy makers to join us in fixing the problem by closing the digital divide in rural America.”
As nearly 19 million Americans – or 40% of the nation’s schools and 60% of healthcare facilities outside metropolitan areas – lack internet connectivity, Land O’Lakes has long advocated for significant broadband infrastructure investment in rural areas at both the state and federal level as part of its initiative, the American Connection Project. As Land O’Lakes and its partners continue these advocacy efforts in the future, it will help ensure the vitality of rural America beyond the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
Please contact your health insurance first to inquire about telehealth options they provide and the potential costs. If you are uninsured, here is a link to telehealth resources that may be available to you on a fee for service basis: https://www.techhealthdirectory.com/
For general information on telehealth, here is a guide to get started:https://www.edumed.org/resources/patients-guide-to-telehealth-virtual-healthcare/