COVID-19 Sanitation Procedures
While CDC, FDA, and USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging, we’re working every day to make sure that our sanitation, food handling, transportation, and staff health and hygiene practices exceed requirements and demonstrate our commitment to a culture of food safety and quality. Here’s a little more about what we’re doing:
- We wash our hands frequently – constantly – and use gloves when handling food. All packing surfaces in our warehouse are food grade and are cleaned and sanitized before and after each use. We’re adjusting our schedules and daily routines to ensure plenty of time for intentional cleaning and disinfecting.
- Our reusable bags are cleaned when they are returned, discarded if they show any signs of damage, and given at least a one-week resting period before repacking. Meat and dairy bags are cleaned and sanitized when returned, then given the same resting period. This resting period greatly exceeds the CDC guidelines for ensuring that viral transmission via surface contact isn’t possible.
- We have increased cleaning and surface sanitizing throughout our office, warehouse, and trucks. Our staff are provided with face masks which they wear throughout the workday. Our drivers wash and sanitize their hands and vehicles frequently, and wear disposable gloves during delivery.
- We minimize in-person interactions in the workplace and practice social distancing. While we’re grateful for the outpouring of volunteer support during this difficult time, we’re also requiring all volunteers to complete sanitation training and follow strict guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety.
- We offer paid sick leave to all of our staff and make sure that everyone feels empowered and obligated to speak up and stay home if they don’t feel well.
- We’re also communicating closely with our family of local farmers and producers to make sure they have the information and resources they need to ensure safe growing, harvesting, and transportation practices. Finally, we’re monitoring new guidance from CDC, FDA, USDA, and Virginia Cooperative Extension and adjusting our practices as necessary.
We’re all in this together, and we’re all dedicated to demonstrating that when our communities need help, our local food system is ready to answer the call. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback on our COVID-19 response, please contact us.
4P Community Response
Local food systems literally and figuratively feed communities—they drive economies, create connections, provide nourishment, and employ countless people, from farm laborers to dishwashers. Now, more than ever, it is critical to support small farmers, the backbone of so many small businesses and so much in our community.
In addition to continuing our delivery services, 4P Foods is also mobilizing an extensive coalition of regional partners to make sure that you, your neighbors, kids who rely on school meals, older adults, people who are home-bound, and everyone in need is able to access food – good, nourishing food, and plenty of it – while schools and institutions are closed to slow the spread of coronavirus. We are activating schools, food banks, kitchens, delivery vehicles, and more to mobilize the supply chain that will get food to people who need it in the immediate term and beyond.
Soon we will share news of the greater regional response plan. In the meantime, check out our press release for more details. Let’s keep caring for ourselves, each other, and eating our veggies!
Peas & love,
-Tom & the 4P Family
UPDATE – April 9, 2020
In the days since this blog post was first written, the 4P Foods team and our partners have been hard at work helping feed the most vulnerable members of our community – from farmers to urban families. We’re helping to lead the Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition (MAFRAC) to address the weaknesses in our food system exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. From empowering local organizations, food banks, and institutions to helping small farms and companies connect to people who need good food, MAFRAC is behind so many food access success stories. To learn more about ways to help, visit mafrac.com and read about our Emergency Food + Farm Fund for Greater DMV/VA (The donation page is no longer active, however, we’d like to once again say thank you for your generous support).
UPDATE – July 1, 2020
- Deliveries increased from about 1,500 bags a week to over 8,000 as more and more people opted for groceries delivered at home. More bags means more income for small, independent farmers and artisans!
- Grew from a team of 25 to over 80 people strong.
- Moved into a new 16,000 square foot warehouse space in Warrenton, VA in mid-March and quickly filled every square inch of it– plus we added another space next door for bag quarantining and cleaning and parked several refrigerated trailers in the parking lot to handle overflow until an additional new cooler was installed.
- Distributed nearly 5,000 meals to those in need in partnership with Fauquier Community Childcare through our grab and go lunch program.
- Partnered with Community Cooks, founded by the Warrenton Wellness Kitchen, to distribute over 3,900 locally sourced and made family meals to food-insecure households in Fauquier County, where the 4P warehouse resides.
- Led the creation of MAFRAC, which has given out over $250,000 in grant funds to a highly diverse group of 38 food access and community organizations who are buying from local producers to serve those in need. Read more in a recent article on the food system during COVID-19 in the District Fray and DCist.
- Connected dozens of food assistance providers and local food producers to provide emergency food access while supporting the local economy and community as part of MAFRAC.
- Refined and submitted (with a lot of help from our friends) 4P’s Vision for a better Mid-Atlantic food system as a semi-finalist for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food System Vision Prize among the other incredible visions from around the world.
- Reckoned with the harsh realities of racism and inequity in the food system and started taking the first of many steps to do more to center equity in our culture and work, including the launch of an internal Equity Team. Read the letter from Tom McDougall here.
We are passionate believers in the power of food to connect us and to create a better world— also, it’s just delicious. We can’t wait to bring you the bounty of summer over the next few months. From peaches to pork chops, beans to brats, we’ve got you covered. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions, comments, or concerns.
P.S. Have you heard about our new event series, 4P Virtual Tours? Join our socially distant tours co-hosted by partnering farmers and artisans with a Q&A from the 4P community. See past tour footage here and follow us on Facebook where we go live with the latest tour every Wednesday from 5:00- 5:30p.