Best Practices for Food and Housing Ministries
While in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are asking church staff and volunteers running feeding and housing ministries to follow the risk reduction guidelines below (based on CDC recommendations).
If you run a direct service ministry at your church and would like to share your experiences with COVID-19, please fill out this survey.
- Actively encourage sick employees and volunteers to stay home.
- Instruct employees and volunteers to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds upon arrivial and with frequency afterward.
- Take the temperatures of all staff and volunteers at the beginning and end of their shifts, and keep a log of all workers' temperature readings.
- Document which volunteer handle groceries, maintain reserves and prepare quarantine boxes.
- Provide hand sanitizer and disposable gloves.
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs.
- Encourage volunteers and staff to refrain from touching their faces. Anyone coughing or sneezing should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue and throw used tissues away in trash baskets, then wash their hands.
- Keep volunteers to the fewest possible per shift. Volunteers should maintain as much distance as possible from one another, ideally six (6) feet. Stagger shifts if necessary, and remove non-essential positions like greeters and hospitality.
- Refrain from shaking hands.
- Instead of self-serve buffets or self-selected groceries, package single-serving meals to go or have volunteers back bags of groceries to take home.
- 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.
- If your congregation has a relationship with a congregational or community nurse, ask for their guidance as situations arise.
- Employees should notify their supervisor of any concerns or changes needed to keep everyone healthy
- Communicate clearly with your clients, volunteers and community partners what the new procedures are and why they are being implemented.
- Post notices on doors and entry points.
- 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 Control, Indiana 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.