Safe Shopping & Healthy Eating During COVID-19

May 1, 2020
Welcome to the first issue of Faith and Health Partnerships' newsletter series that focuses on specific topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming weeks, we will cover different topics that faith and community leaders raised during listening sessions and community conversations. Please let us know if you have questions or subjects you’d like us to feature.

This issue focuses on food and safety . Many congregations are providing meals to those who need them. How can food be prepared and delivered safely? What are some guidelines for grocery shopping? Getting enough food is a concern for many. What are some resources for finding good, healthy food?
How to cook and prepare food safely
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, currently there is no evidence of food, food containers or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. 
If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat.
The CDC recommends washing your hands often  with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
It is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety— clean, separate, cook, and chill .
Clean : Wash Hands, Utensils, and Surfaces Often.
Separate : Keep food separate. In your shopping cart, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods and place packages of raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags if available. Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. 
Cook to the Right Temperature. Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature is high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. Keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking. Microwave food thoroughly (165˚F or above).
Chill : Refrigerate and Freeze Food Properly. Refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours.

How to deliver food safely
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in people who want to make a difference. Among the ways they are making an impact: delivering groceries and meals to neighbors, family members, fellow congregation members and others in need. 
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration offers advice for managing food delivery. Tips include:
Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces within the vehicle, by wiping down surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wear a mask when preparing and delivering food.
Practice social distancing when delivering food, e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by storing in appropriate transport vessels.
Keep cold foods cold by keeping enough coolant materials, e.g., gel packs.
Keep hot foods hot by ensuring insulated cases are properly functioning.
Keep foods separated to avoid cross contamination, e.g., keeping raw foods separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
Ensure that any wrapping and packaging used for food transport is done so that contamination of the food is prevented.
Routinely clean and sanitize coolers and insulated bags used to deliver foods.

Download the flyer: How to Deliver Food Safely
How to navigate the grocery store in the time of COVID-19  
By:  Matt Queen

As many cities and states shut down all non-essential businesses and activities for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, one place that is still open for business is the grocery store.

Dr. Minhaj Husain , infectious disease specialist at Aurora Health Care, says that shoppers and grocery store workers both have a higher risk of coming in contact with the virus simply because there are so many people around.

Whether you’re one of the many heroic workers continuing to fill these vital roles or you’re going out to shop, Dr. Husain offers these tips to stay safe.

How should people shop for food differently?

Avoid touching anything you are not intending to buy. This applies to everything, including meat, produce and non-perishable items.

Sharing God's love with those in need
Eating fulfills one of our most basic physical needs, but there is a reason that meals or food practices are central to almost every faith tradition. Food is holy. When we share food with each other, we share the love of God.

Many people are struggling to afford food or to find food supplies. This is a time for partnership and collaboration to ensure that everyone has enough to eat. Many faith communities and generous organizations are joining together to create pop-up pantries, cook and deliver meals, and link extras from restaurants with those who need food. What creative ways are you finding to share the love of God with your neighbors?
Here are some organizations that are providing food for those in need:

Chicago Public Schools 773-553-5437 or email provides information on food pantries and food banks across the United States.

Food Safety Flyers for your Community