Guidance for Feeding Ministries in Light of COVID-19

During this time when vulnerable people may be even more vulnerable due to job loss or hours being cut, it is important that the church continue to offer compassionate service in a way that keeps people safe. If it is your judgment that you cannot deliver services safely and must close for a time, know that we trust you to make that call.

Here are recommendations for mitigating the risk of disease transmission associated with providing food to our neighbors. These recommendations may be updated as we continue to learn more about the COVID-19:

  • Tell volunteers who are feeling sick to stay home, and be prepared to send sick volunteers home.
  • Volunteers should wash hands routinely. Make sure hand sanitizer is readily available. All people handling food, including pre-packaged food, should wear gloves.
  • Congregations offering community meals are encouraged to temporarily offer to-go bag lunches instead.
  • Food pantries should minimize the number of hands on the food being distributed. Food should be offered in pre-packaged boxes or bags. Some food pantries offer clients the option to select their own bread, pastries, and fresh produce. For now this practice should cease, and this food should be provided in pre-packaged bags or boxes.
  • For food pantries where the majority of clients have automotive transport, consider moving to a drive through model of food delivery, having volunteers directly load food in to the trunk or back seat of a client’s car. Gleaners Food Bank offers an example of how to do this.
  • Communicate clearly with your clients, volunteers, and community partners what the new procedures are and why they are being implemented.
  • Be a reliable source of information for your clients and volunteers. Amplify the voices of reputable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease ControlIndiana State Department of Health, and Episcopal Relief & Development. The CDC has helpful print resources in English, Spanish, and Chinese that would be appropriate to include with food packages.

Additional Resources from the Centers for Disease Control