Sanitation Protocols

Borrowed from RVA Mutual Aid Disaster Relief


Why is this important?

Coronavirus spreads very quickly, and people may not have symptoms until they’ve already had the virus for a week or more.


Although some cases of COVID-19 are mild, everyone is at risk for contracting and spreading the coronavirus that causes this disease. In addition, many people are at high risk for severe illness, including older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.


Because we can’t know for sure whether our volunteers are asymptomatic carriers (positive for COVID-19 but not showing symptoms), and because we know many of the people requesting groceries are elderly or immunocompromised, we have to assume that everyone receiving groceries is high risk, and everyone delivering groceries is an asymptomatic carrier.


Our #1 goal is to make sure that we do not transmit the virus along with groceries!


Three Key Guidelines:


All the protocols are based on these two guidelines:


  1. The Six Feet Rule: always stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Whenever you are closer than 6 feet to food, even if packaged, always wear ed except when you have JUST washed or sanitized your hands. If you touch ANYTHING S than food or food boxes, wash your hands again with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.


General Guidelines:

  • Volunteers should take their temperature before EVERY shift. If you have an elevated temperature or any symptoms (dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell), do not volunteer onsite or with deliveries.

  • Volunteers with ANY respiratory symptoms, especially a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should stay home and help with distance/dispatch tasks.

  • Volunteers with any known contact with people who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home.

  • Clean all surfaces with an approved disinfectant before doing anything with food on the surface, even if the food is packaged and sealed.

  • Always tie long hair back before handling food.

  • Always wear plastic gloves while directly handling unpackaged food. Always wash your hands immediately before putting on gloves. If you touch ANYTHING other than food, throw out your gloves, wash your hands again, and get a fresh pair of gloves.

  • Wash hands with running water if possible, or use hand sanitizer if no running water is available (during deliveries), immediately before touching food boxes or bags. If you touch anything other than food boxes or bags (especially your face, hair, clothes, etc.), wash or sanitize your hands again before handling food boxes or bags.

  • Wear bandana or mask over nose and mouth at all times while interacting with food. Use a clean bandana for each shift, and do not remove it until you are finished with your shift.


Protocols for Food Bagging & Delivery:


Food Bagging Zone Protocol


  • Food Bagging Zone must be thoroughly wiped with an approved disinfectant and a disposable towel at the beginning and end of every shift and once every hour while in continuous use.

  • Put bandana or mask over nose and mouth before entering food bagging zone.

  • After putting on bandana or mask, wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately before entering food bagging zone.

  • If you will be touching unpackaged food directly, put on fresh gloves after you are inside Food Bagging Zone.

  • Do not touch anything that could be cross-contaminated by people who have not washed hands with your Food Bagging gloves on, including doors, light switches, fridge/freezer doors, etc. If you touch anything, dispose of gloves (if you are using them), wash hands again, and get a fresh pair of gloves (if you are touching unpackaged food).

  • Stay six feet away from other volunteers at all times. If you must pass another volunteer through a walkway that does not allow six feet of distance, pass with your backs toward each other so you are not breathing toward each other.

  • When volunteers are ready to take deliveries, place the bags in their car or bike without touching anything but the bags. Let them open the doors for you.


Food Delivery Protocol


  • Each delivery driver must bring a container of hand sanitizer along with bags of food for their delivery round. Ask at the depot if you need some.

  • Driver should always wear a mask or bandana over nose and mouth while carrying food. If food is in trunk or back seat, then driver may remove bandana while driving only. If food is in front seat, please keep bandana or mask on at all times. Bandana or mask must be replaced over nose and mouth prior to approaching food, then hands should be sanitized before picking up bags.

  • Sanitize hands again before picking up food bags at each delivery.

  • Bags of food should never be touched without first sanitizing hands.

  • If possible, let someone who has clean hands bring the bags to your car or bike. Open the doors for them - this limits the chance of cross-contamination.

  • If you have to load the bags yourself, first open your car door, then sanitize your hands, then pick up the bag and carry to your car, then close the car door.

  • When you arrive at delivery location, first open your car door, then use hand sanitizer, then get food bags and carry to doorstep.

  • Do not touch your face while carrying food bags.

  • If you cough or sneeze on a bag do not deliver it. It can be repackaged if necessary.

  • Place the bag on the doorstep, knock, and then return to your car. Do not stay on the doorstep and talk with the person; only talk from a distance of at least 6 feet. Assume that you are a potential carrier and that the person receiving the delivery is high-risk.