The School District, City agencies, and nonprofit partners are working tirelessly to provide food to children, elders, and anyone else who needs it. Residents across the city are lining up to feed their families. How do we keep social or physical distancing going, even as Philadelphians come together for food access?  

Here are some best practices for staff and volunteers on the front lines.

For distributing food 

  • Post “stay six feet apart” posters prominently at distribution sites. 
  • Mark off six- or eight-foot wide spaces in areas where people stand in line. Use cones, chalk, tape, chairs, or anything else available — plus measuring tape. 
  • Have someone stand outside, welcome everyone from a safe distance, and explain how distribution will work and the importance of staying six feet apart.  
  • Set up tables lengthwise. Have staff stay at one end of the table and load food from that end. Push it down to the far end, where families can pick it up.  
  • Mark six feet of distance on either side of tables. Families wait (at a six-foot distance on one side) while staff put food bags or boxes on the table. Staff then move back at least six feet while families approach the table to pick up the food.

For packing or preparing food for distribution 

  • All staff packing food should wear gloves and cloth masks and should wash hands if they touch their face or mask. 
  • Use a shopping method”: Each person moves down a line and packs an entire bag or box. Unlike an assembly line, this allows staff to stay at least 6 feet from each other. 
  • Have each person, one by one, take all of the food items they need to pack a certain number of bags/boxes at a single table.  
  • Use wheeled carts, so that one person at a time can transport food to and from a refrigerator. 


Thank you to staff from the Office of Children & Families and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation for sharing your strategies! Got other best practices to share? We’d love to hear them!