Safe Serving

Safe Serving

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal
Bishop of Southern Ohio

We must continue to feed the hungry, provide space for twelve-step groups, maintain contact with sick or isolated individuals, and keep exploring ways to worship remotely in community…

In this season of social distance, let’s not forget that nothing can distance us from the love of God. May this challenge inspire us to find creative and effective ways to be Christ’s body in the world. Please know you are in my prayers, as I know I am in yours.

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 whenever possible.
  • 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.