Rapids Spirits Liquor Store received a new batch of bags to wrap up wine purchases this week. The bags, printed with information about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), are part of a joint project with the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association (MMBA) and the Proof Alliance.

“It’s an awareness type of thing,” store manager Scott Olson said of the bags, which arrived Feb. 16. “Our product is a regulated product, and there are, of course, issues that go along with it. As a municipal store, in our organization, we're all about having people use our products responsibly. This is one of those things where we feel is something we can participate in.”

Starting Feb. 18 – which was National Drink Wine Day – customers buying wine at Rapids Spirits and many stores across Minnesota were given bags printed with a design that says, “This bag can change a life.”

On the reverse, the wine bags note that drinking during pregnancy can lead to an irreversible brain injury that affects one in 20 children today.

“The more we talk about the risks, the better choices we make to give kids the best chance,” the printing adds, along with a QR code and a web address directing readers to proofalliance.org/convo for more information.

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Olson said the bags came about after a discussion with the MMBA about how municipal liquor stores can help get the message out.

According to a press release from Proof Alliance, heavy drinking among women increased by 41 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This contributed to a statewide 20 percent increase in gross liquor receipts, worth almost $32 million according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

In response, the St. Paul-based nonprofit partnered with the MMBA and a Minnesota-based chain of wine stores to print 25,000 specialty wine bags with a message that they hope will promote responsible drinking and stimulate conversation about the spectrum disorder, formerly known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

“Proof Alliance is not against drinking and they support drinking responsibly,” said Sara Messelt, the organization’s executive director.

“FASD is 100 percent preventable, yet one in nine women report to drinking while pregnant,” Messelt said in the release. “It is our goal to empower women with credible information so that they can enjoy their favorite glass of wine without worry – especially during these times of isolation and uncertainty.”