How Whitsons is Protecting our Customers and Team Members
Safety is Our First Priority
As a food service leader since 1979, Whitsons is committed to providing safe and healthy dining environments for our customers and workplaces for our team members. In the midst of the unprecedented circumstances caused by COVID-19, Whitsons is prepared to support our operations as we re-open by following guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Health guidelines, federal OSHA standards related to COVID-19 and state Executive Orders.
Our plan for re-opening requires a transparent, open communications protocol with our clients, as well as important changes that need to be made in the interest of the individual communities that we serve. Some of these changes may include implementing a cashless-only processing system at the POS, eliminating self-service stations and/or limiting the number of customers in the serving areas.
While Whitsons will continue to formulate options and offer assistance in our operating plans, the CDC, health authorities, Governor’s orders in each state and individual district directives are what will ultimately set the guidelines on how we manage dining programs for our communities. However, below are some general guidelines you can expect from our team as we prepare to re-open dining locations.
Proactive Safety Measures Currently in Place
In response to the pandemic, we have already taken critical measures to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we monitor the situation, we continue to enhance certain protocols and provide additional resources as outlined here.
Re-Opening Task Force & Best Practices
Whitsons has developed a COVID-19 Preparedness Re-opening Plan for our Corporate Office in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of the upcoming lifting of the New York on PAUSE Executive Order. This plan will allow for a safe and healthy workplace for all our team members, customers and other visitors to return to.
In addition, Whitsons School Nutrition has appointed a Task Force comprised of Whitsons executives and top school nutrition management professionals to help develop a re-opening plan for our school operations. This task force will offer re-opening support in the areas of:
- Training. As part of our CORE pre-opening training, we have added a multi-tier training program, “Together Six Feet Apart,” to instruct our teams on proper sanitation, personal hygiene, protective personal equipment (i.e., face coverings and gloves), taking digital temperatures and identifying symptoms, social distancing, managing food safely, enforcing biosecurity procedures, understanding service modifications and other safety protocols required under our new operational guidelines. In addition, all of our managers are required to be ServSafe COVID-19 re-opening certified prior to the start of service.
- Social Distancing. Properly implemented, social distancing is an important strategy to reduce opportunities for the spread of COVID-19 in our environment. In food production areas, an evaluation will be made to identify and implement operational changes that increase employee separation and restrict visitors to essential service personnel only. Service and seating areas will also require adjustments for social distancing accommodations, such as food shields and setting tables six feet apart.
- Recovery Menus and Modified Service. At this time, we are planning to eliminate all self-serve stations in which customers would handle any utensils or otherwise interact in favor of convenient, safe grab and go options. Cook-to-order stations that would encourage a wait in line will be streamlined with alternative options as agreed upon with the district. To assist our onsite teams with developing a varied, nutritious, tasty and safe service, we have recovery menus available that accommodate a modified service without sacrificing quality or innovation.
- Packaging. Protocols on safely preparing and packaging food for grab and go service will be reinforced, such as specific fresh produce wrapping requirements, time stamping and sanitation
- Technology. We are encouraging technology such as cashless and/or pre-paid systems at this time to minimize personal contact.
- Communications. We empower our managers to keep an open and ongoing communication with our clients and customers. As changes or new regulations develop, our team will make sure to keep district representatives apprised immediately.
- Marketing. We have developed a number of signage resources to help remind team members and customers to follow certain safety procedures, such as face covering, social distancing (including floor stickers), how to clean and disinfect, food safety, CDC heath mandates and more.