Charities offering meals
Clients in need include those of low income, persons who are unsheltered, or facing other life challenges preventing them from being able to purchase healthy nutritious foods. Clients in need can include children of low-income families who are disproportionately affected by hunger and lack of access to food.
Pre-packaged meals are the best option for clients to limit gatherings inside the dining areas. A grab and go type of meal such as brown bag meals or boxed lunches are both acceptable. Take-away meals will allow clients to leave the premises quickly so that gatherings do not occur. Charitable agencies must also ensure physical distancing with a 2 metre separation is practiced in lines and between volunteers, staff and clients.
Per the Gathering and Events Order
, indoor meals without charge for clients in need may be offered to up to 50 clients at one time as long as requirements under part C of the Order are followed. A summary of the Order for indoor meals is described below under Meal Services.
The following guidance offers recommendations for physical distancing and meal services.
Challenges for charitable organizations include lack of volunteers to oversee line-ups, the numbers of clients who need their services, and lack of awareness in some clients about requirements to control COVID-19.
Charities can employ physical distancing requirements in line-ups by:
- Using markings along the sidewalk (e.g., tapes or cones) to ensure a 2 metre spacing and visible waiting areas between clients where practical.
- Ensuring there are secured alcohol based hand rubs available for clients to use while waiting in line.
- Offering services at staggered times and extending the service times to reduce crowding
- Inquiring with schools or other closed community sites if these can be used to serve meals
- Using tickets as a method for letting clients know when they access a meal (for example: blue tickets, meal at 3pm; red tickets meal at 4pm; green tickets meal at 5pm). This option may also reduce lines outside the charity.
- Pre-packaged meals are the best option for clients to limit gatherings inside the dining areas. A grab and go type of meal such as brown bag meals or boxed lunches are both acceptable.
- Servers who are providing charitable meals should practice frequent hand-washing and practice physical distancing when possible.
- Access to alcohol based hand rubs must be available for clients and for servers.
- Signs that reinforce hand-washing messages and physical distancing would help educate clients that may not be aware of COVID-19 requirements.
- When pre-packaged meals are served for take-away, servers can hand-out the meals in a way to minimize contact. For example,
- Place the pre-packaged meal on a table, then step away before the client picks it up.
- Ensure a 2 metre separation by using barriers or tape markings on the floor in a cafeteria style service
- Staff and volunteers may dispense water/coffee/cream/milk from food containers for clients. Single use condiment packages should be provided to clients rather than allowing them to access (touch) any bulk food containers, e.g., salt/pepper/sugar/ketchup/mustard. Alternatively, staff and volunteers may dispense condiments from bulk food containers for clients.
- A COVID-19 safety plan must be available and
- should specify the number of people who can be present in that space up to a maximum of 50 (allow 5 metre squared per person),
- organizers must ensure that number of clients are monitored and the COVID-19 safety plan is followed,
- Areas where congregation may occur is monitored and limited in outside areas, in line-ups and within the premises using markers, physical devices and by providing 2 metres of space between clients in those areas,
- No more than six clients may sit together at a table, and there must be two metres between the chairs of groups of clients unless there is a physical barrier,
- Washroom facilities, hand-washing facilities, and hand sanitation supplies are provided,
- Self-serve food and drink stations are equipped with hand-hygiene supplies, signs reminding clients to clean hands are posted, and high-touch surfaces at the station are frequently cleaned and sanitized,
- Clients may not be replaced with other clients once the meal is over,
- Following the meal services the organizer must clean, sanitize and ventilate the premises before another meal service may occur,
- Organizers must make every effort to collect names and contact information for clients attending the meal service, retain this information for 30 days, and then destroy the contact information,
- and others.