In the time of a pandemic, how does the beloved community stay safe while still following the covenant to serve? How do we compassionately help those in need while shielding people from transmission?
It is imperative to mitigate risks, especially when handling food. Here are some guidelines:
- Volunteers should not serve if they are sick. If someone shows up sick, or thinks they may have been exposed, send them home.
- Keep in mind that anyone might potentially be sick without showing symptoms – observe stringent safety precautions at all times.
- Volunteers should wash hands frequently and use sanitizer.
- Any volunteer who handles food must wear single-serve gloves, even if it is pre-packaged. Change gloves frequently.
- Wear masks at all times.
- If you are operating a food pantry, the less people handling food items the better. Dispense with bulk food or self-serve options such as selecting your own produce or pastries. Any food offered should be pre-packaged. Consider a drive-through option for guests who have a car, where volunteers load items directly into their trunk or back seat to lessen contact.
- Ask families to send one representative to pick up meals for the family or items at the food pantry to limit the number of people in line.
- When preparing meals, clean and disinfect food prep areas scrupulously.
- Discontinue buffet style meals. Community meals should be “grab-and-go” rather than sit-down.
- Avoid situations where people might gather. Limit volunteers that are working in your building to 10. Limit groups to the smallest number possible.
- Set up the distribution process so people maintain distancing. People should be spaced at least 6 feet apart. Consider setting up cones or issuing numbers. See St. John’s innovative solution.
- Follow local health department guidelines – they are your county authority.
- Specific Feeding Guidelines – Episcopal Relief & Development
- Faith Based Responses to Epidemics – Episcopal Relief & Development
- Coronavirus and High Flu Season Response – Gleaners
- Interim Guidance for Administrators and Leaders of Community- and Faith-Based Organizations to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Guidance for Food Ministries in the Light of Covid-19 – Diocese of Indianapolis
- Responding to the Coronavirus – Diocese of Kansas City
- Best Practices Food and Housing Ministry – Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
- Covid-19 Food Pantry Guidelines – West Ohio Food Bank
- How to Use Gloves Properly in Food Service – Gordon Food Service