NOTE: This document is based upon current guidelines and recommendations from the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Education Department. It is a living document and is subject to updates as more information becomes available.
School meals will continue to be available to all students, including those attending school in-person and those learning remotely. The meal service program will be in compliance with the NYSED Child Nutrition Program requirements, USDA, and the Putnam County Health Department.
The Food Service Department will communicate to all families in the District in languages spoken by families by way of email, robo calls, mail, newsletter, social media and through the Food Service website. Information to be communicated will include meal distribution pick up day and times for families that currently receive meal benefits or are eligible to receive free and/or reduced breakfast and lunch services.
Multiple opportunities will be available for families to complete meal benefit applications. Meal applications are available on the school website, at the front office for all schools, the school calendar, and via email, fax, or mail, including the name and phone number of the Food Service Director for in-person support. The Food Service Director’s contact information will be included in all written materials provided to families. School staff will receive and respond to communications from families. The Food Service Department website will include links and communications for families to directly access documents, along with answers to frequently asked questions.
For students onsite, meals will be provided while maintaining appropriate social distancing between students. Students do not need to wear face coverings when seated and eating so long as they are appropriately socially distanced.
The District will ensure social distancing between individuals while eating in the school cafeteria by providing guides such as tape on floors, signage, increased table spacing and/or physical barriers between tables. If not feasible, meals may be served in alternate areas (e.g., classrooms, gyms, outdoors, etc.) or in staggered meal periods to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning and disinfection between students.
The sharing of food and beverages (e.g., buffet style meals, snacks) is prohibited, unless individuals are members of the same household.
Other considerations and protocols that will be in place include:
- Safety shields will be installed in existing cafeteria serving lines and cashier stations
- Safety posters to aid in meal service
- Separate allergy-free seating accommodations
- Train teachers on food allergies, including symptoms of allergic reactions to food.
- Train all non-food service staff on any meal service-related activities they will be responsible for. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/foodallergies/pdf/13_243135_A_Food_Allergy_Web_508.pdf
- Provide handwashing stations and encourage proper hand washing before and after eating meals
- Prepackaged Grab-and-Go options to expedite service
- Prepackaged utensils and condiments will be provided
- Implement touchless ID system for Point of Sale system
Grab-and Go offsite meals will be provided in the event schools are on remote learning model or on a hybrid model. Bulk meals for multiple days will be available for pick up in an area where families can easily receive food in the trunk of their vehicle. Alternate delivery arrangements can be accommodated to assist families with students who are unable to access the Grab-and-Go distribution.
Safety and Sanitation
To ensure safety and sanitation of cafeterias and other spaces utilized for school meals the following considerations and protocols will be in place:
- Follow all health and safety guidelines from NYSED, DOH and Putnam County Department of Health
- Provide Health Protocol & Safety training for all staff prior to opening. This includes training to enforce proper social distancing and prohibiting the sharing of food and beverages
- Update operating procedures with COVID-19 protocols for sanitation of school kitchens, cafeterias, and food storage areas
- Consideration of special feeding safety needs of students with disabilities
- Identify additional equipment and supply needs in food service areas. This may include barriers at point of sale and point of meal pick up; facemasks, soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, additional portable handwashing stations
- Single use gloves and disposable aprons to be used by staff when handling and delivering all foods
- Allow only program staff, custodial staff, and approved volunteers to enter program area
- Establish sanitation procedures for custodial staff to clean and sanitize tables, chairs, and other surfaces between each meal service
Food Service Staff
Food Service staffing levels will be evaluated and adjustments will be made where necessary. All Food Service staff members will complete required training on the District’s policies and protocols regarding health and safety. In the event of classroom meal consumption, all teachers will be trained on health and safety protocols. Food Services staff will train, review and/or retrain on standard Food Service operating procedures. Staff will also cross-train so that essential activities can take place in the event of key absences or emergency situations.
Vendors and Suppliers
The District recognizes and will take into account that unexpected closures may impact food supply chains or availability. The Food Service Department will work with food service vendors to determine the safest ways to handle food and supply deliveries. The Department will also have supplies on hand for in-person and Grab-and-Go meal service.