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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

May 1, 2020

Food Delivery Services and Food Banks

Home Food Delivery and Food Bank Guidelines

This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only. 


How COVID-19 is spread

  • COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • Recent studies show that the virus can be spread by people before they develop symptoms or who never develop symptoms.
  • It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


 Daily Screening

  • Staff and volunteers should screen themselves daily for symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include: cough, difficulty breathing, or at least two of these symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • Stay home if you are sick and notify your supervisor about when your COVID-19 symptoms started. If you become sick during your shift, immediately notify your supervisor and go home. You would not want to risk infecting someone else with COVID-19. Call your medical provider for further direction, including whether you should get tested for COVID-19.


  • Limit close contact with others as much as possible and practice safe physical distancing.
    • Safe physical distancing means maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet apart from other people whether outdoors, in vehicles, or in buildings.
  • Wear a cloth face covering.
    • Face coverings may prevent people who don't know they have the virus from transmitting it to others. Face coverings do not protect the wearer and are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • Wear a face covering for the duration of your shifts. Wash your face covering after use. Do not share face coverings.
    • Instructions for making a face mask can be found here: CDC Instructions for making a face covering.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Eat only during specified mealtimes and breaks.
    • It is especially important to maintain physical distancing (at least 6 feet) during meals and breaks since you will be removing your face covering. Stagger breaks/meals to keep down the number of staff or volunteers. Take meals or breaks outdoors when possible.
  • Wash your hands often. Ensure your hands are clean before touching any food, food preparation areas, food storage, and/or packaging materials.
    • Proper hand hygiene is an important infection control measure.
    • Keep in mind where you can access and use facilities with soap and water during your shift.
    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • If no water is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 70% alcohol.
    • Key times to clean hands include:
      • Before, during, and after preparing food
      • Before eating food
      • Before and after using the toilet
      • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
      • Any time you have touched surfaces or items and think it is necessary.
    • Additional times to clean hands on the job include:
      • Before and after work shifts
      • Before and after work breaks
      • Before and after making a delivery
      • After putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings
      • After touching frequently touched surfaces such as doorbells or door handles
      • Before wearing and after removing cold-weather gloves or protective gloves
      • Before and after pumping gas
      • After coughing, sneezing and touching your face. Carry tissues in your vehicle and use them when you cough, sneeze or touch your face. Throw used tissues in the trash or trash bags.
  • Wear gloves and use the appropriate utensils (deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, etc.) if your work requires you to come into contact with exposed, ready-to-eat foods. Otherwise, avoid handling ready-to-eat foods. Also remember that gloves are not a substitute for hand washing or hand hygiene.


A useful resource is What Food and Grocery Pick-up and Delivery Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Limit contact

  • Practice contactless deliveries to the greatest extent possible. Contactless deliveries allow you to leave a delivery at a doorstep and move back to a distance greater than 6 feet away while verifying receipt of the delivery with the person getting the delivery. Try to do all interactions electronically (e.g., in an app or over a phone). This eliminates the need for close contact between you and the person getting the delivery.
  • Limit your contact with frequently touched surfaces during pickups and deliveries, such as countertops, elevator buttons, doorbells, door handles, radio buttons, etc.
  • Use a foot, shoulder, elbow, hip, or forearm instead of hands when opening doors at pick-up and delivery sites, if possible.
  • Do not touch prepared ready-to-eat foods as a part of the delivery process.

Wear face covering

  • If you share a vehicle with anyone, if you provide deliveries as a part of a drive up or drive through service, or if you are delivering the food to a doorstep, wear a face covering.

Clean your hands

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after each delivery.

Cleaning and Disinfecting


    • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol

When and How:

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces at the beginning and end of each shift, particularly if the vehicle is also used by other drivers. Follow the directions on the cleaning product's label.
  • Clean surfaces that are visibly dirty with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfecting them.
  • Frequently touched surfaces include the steering wheel, gearshift, signaling levers, door handles, hand brake, door handles, locks, and seatbelt buckles.
  • Wipe down items such as clipboards, pens, thermometer heads, and electronic signature pads/mobile devices if shared using an appropriate disinfectant.


  • Guidance on physical distancing, hand hygiene, wearing a cloth face covering, and all other measures described above to prevent infection also apply to workers and volunteers in food banks, food pantries, and other similar meal distribution centers.
  • The California Association of Food Banks also recommends several measures that can be taken to reduce risk to staff, volunteers, and clients. Recommendations include pre-packaging food for easier pickup, offering a drive-through distribution, instituting an appointment system for pickup to reduce crowding, and postponing food samples and classes. A full list of recommendations is available on the California Association of Food Banks website.
  • Some food banks and pantries may function like a grocery store. For these locations, the Cal/OSHA Safety and Health Guidance for COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Grocery Stores (PDF) is a recommended resource for guidance on procedures.


Practice Physical Distancing

  • During food preparation, practice physical distancing by maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

Time and Temperature Control

  • Observe established food safety practices for time and temperature monitoring and control, preventing cross contamination, cleaning hands, working only when well, and proper storage of food.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by storing them in appropriate transport vessels.
  • Keep cold foods cold by using enough coolant materials, e.g., gel packs. Cold foods must be kept at 40°F or below.
  • Keep hot foods hot by ensuring insulated cases are properly functioning. Keep hot foods above 140°F.
  • Throw away all food left at room temperature longer than 2 hours and for more than 1 hour above 90°F.

Avoid Cross Contamination and Allergen Cross-Contact

  • Keep foods separated to avoid cross contamination, e.g., keeping raw foods separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods
  • Keep foods that contain major allergens separate from other foods. The major food allergens are milk, eggs, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod), crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. 

Ensure Safe Packaging


The management of the food delivery company, food bank, or other food distribution site or service should have health and safety measures in place for employees and volunteers. Additionally, the management should:

  • encourage sick employees and volunteers to stay home
  • help employees and volunteers obtain disinfectants, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies for use during their shift
  • develop policies that allow for limited contact and contactless deliveries, pick-ups, and transactions