Help for Foodservice Operations During COVID-19

Posted on March 17, 2020 by Amy Bollam

Infection control procedures

The latest update from CMS regarding Infection Control and Prevention of COVID-19 was released on March 13. Click here to read the full memorandum. The guidance from CMS advises cancelling group activities including communal dining while also reminding residents to practice social distancing and perform frequent hand hygiene.

Dining operation best practices

To ensure safe and appropriate food service, consider taking the following steps for otherwise healthy residents (not currently experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus):

  1. Assess your resident population for independent residents - which residents are independent and may be able to successfully dine in their room without direct supervision? Check out this resource.
  2. Review your resident population for individuals considered "at-risk" nutritionally or otherwise who would benefit from additional supervision during meal times - consider establishing smaller dining groups with supervision.
  3. Additionally for "at-risk" individuals, consider providing high calorie items or fortified foods.
  4. For individuals needing supervision or assistance, establish staggered dining times to promote smaller batches of diners at a time. Be sure to promote superior cleaning and sanitizing of tables and surfaces between resident seatings! 
  5. It may be necessary to create additional dining areas outside of the main dining room - get creative!
  6. Lastly, promote increased hydration efforts for all residents - increase the frequency of a hydration cart or add a "mobile hydration station" throughout the day.

Commonly asked questions

Should we use disposable or paper products?
There is no need to use disposable or paper products - in fact, for meals being delivered away from the main dining area, disposable products notoriously do not hold temperature. Provide tableware as you would normally. Practice cleaning and sanitizing procedures as usual.

I have limited staff available - what are my options?
It is perfectly acceptable to review your menu and make substitutions to ease production in the kitchen. Consider using your emergency menu or a menu with easy-to-prepare items.

What will happen with my food delivery?
You should have a conversation with your food supplies and vendors. During this time with restrictions on outside vendors, it may not be appropriate for the delivery person to walk through the building to make your food delivery. Instead, coordinate with suppliers to use a loading dock or appropriate area where food and supplies can be accessed by facility staff to store appropriately.

Additional information

Encourage all staff to practice social distancing outside of work. For an illustration of how social distancing can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 click here.

Wash your hands! The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Information on handwashing can be found here.

For up to date information, visit the CDC website.

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