UPDATE AS OF 5/30/20

Through grace, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church is continuing to host Friends meal services.  As you plan your visit to Friends, be mindful of the important guidelines listed in this May 30th update, highlighted as blue text below, and the information in the balance of the COVID-19 Updates on this page.

To help maintain needed social distance and optimize facility cleaning protocols, up to two (2) volunteers may join the Friends Meal Coordination Team in the combined Kitchen and Parish area at one time.  No other groups, people or meal coordination team members will be allowed in the church during this time.  The Friends Meal Coordination Team itself will not exceed 3 individuals.

Food donors and volunteers...

  • Hot food should be dropped off and ready to serve by 4:00 pm Monday-Friday and 10:30 am on Saturday.
  • Bring cases of water totaling at least 100 bottles in lieu of milk (for the present situation - water bottles instead of milk and cups)
  • 3 compartment take out boxes, for at least 100 individuals are needed (take out boxes in lieu of plates/water bottles in lieu of cups & milk)

 

UPDATE AS OF 3/14/20 10:15 AM PST     This is a new updates page. 

To the members of the Friends in the Desert Foundation, Inc. (“Friends”) community,

Friends’ top priority is the safety and wellbeing of the guests we serve, volunteers, those associated with our host facility (St. Timothy’s), Friends staff and the community we love.  At this time, Friends endeavors to continue serving those in need in the modified way discussed below.   We are monitoring COVID-19 activity and expect to share additional updates as more information becomes available.

We encourage you to read this entire update to understand both the changes to how Friends will be operating going forward and how Friends will continue many of its practices to maximize the health and safety of everyone participating in the Friends community.

NEW MEAL SERVICES PROCESS (Effective Monday, March 16, 2020)

We need your continued participation and support.  Meals service options are changing significantly and immediately.  While we continue to serve those in need, we will minimize the times several of our guests are gathered in a single place.

  • Individually packaged meals (to-go meals) will now be distributed to guests (versus Friends traditional approach of guests seated and served around tables)
  • As to-go meals are distributed, guests will be updated on important matters, wished well, asked to eat elsewhere (and directed to properly dispose of their meal container and utensils when finished eating)
  • Volunteer groups are asked to continue bringing meals to Friends volunteer entrance and to participate with Friends’ limited staff placing individual servings in to-go boxes
  • Interested groups are invited to participate in handing out the to-go boxes or they may depart immediately follow food preparation or food delivery
  • Some volunteer groups may be limited in the ways they can participate by their sponsoring organization.  If your group faces limitations in continuing to serve while so much is unknown about Covid-19, please contact us so we can find ways to continue working together (there are many ways to continue making a meaningful difference even if your group cannot bring and prepare meals for a season)
  • In lieu of milk, if possible, please bring a supply to-go style, 3-compartment food containers
  • Communicate your plans and your needs as far in advance as possible so Friends can work with available resources to continue providing nutritious meals to a vulnerable population on a predictable schedule

GENERAL BEHAVIORAL CHANGES

Friends has implemented the following precautions to reduce transmission of all illnesses:

  • If you are experiencing the symptoms of fever, cough, lower respiratory illness or have had any exposure we kindly ask you to stay home and away from vulnerable populations and vulnerable individuals
  • Declare a handshake-free & hug-free facility and protocol for everyone while at the Friends facility and Friends staff in other public settings

GENERAL BEHAVIORAL CHANGES continued

  • Include hand washing and other hygiene reminders
  • Provide increased access to hand sanitizer and hand washing throughout the facility
  • Friends will refer anyone with visible signs of illness to the nearest healthcare facility and they will be diverted away from the Friends facility and interaction with those attending Friends functions

If you are in a high risk group or have underlying medical issues we ask you to use your personal judgement in deciding to attend Friends on-site events.

MORE STEPS TO OPTIMIZE HEALTH AT FRIENDS FACILITY

These existing protocols are continuing and are being vigorously monitored:

  • All tables, kitchen surfaces, sinks, faucets and door handles are thoroughly washed with a strong bleach solution nightly after service
  • Each table is assigned a volunteer host whose duties, in addition to post meal table washing, include a bleach solution wipe down of salt and pepper shakers and each chair before the chairs are stacked for nightly storage
  • Volunteers and donors entering the kitchen area are asked to thoroughly wash their hands at a sink provisioned with warm water and soap
  • Food handlers, meal servers, and dining hall attendants are directed to on-site food handling glove supplies
  • Any meal items served from a tray are handed out by a gloved hand versus allowing diners to self-serve
  • Self-service tables of items are discontinued
  • Restroom facilities are thoroughly cleaned and surfaces and handles/faucets are sanitized after each meal service
  • Southern Nevada Health Department periodically provides onsite routine preventive services to Friends guests (last visit was September 2019 for provision of Hepatitis A shots)
  • Friends periodically hosts volunteer nursing and other volunteer health care providers for routine health screening, prevention services and triage recommendations

URGENT NEEDS

  • Large containers and/or dispensers with hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol solution)
  • 3-comparment to-go food containers
  • Water bottles to distribute with to-go meals

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

We encourage everyone to follow these best practices to help keep yourself and others healthy:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based gel (at least 60% alcohol solution) for at least 20 seconds, especially after visiting the restroom; before eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching your face
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home if you are feeling unwell
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard the tissue in the trash
  • Keep disinfectant with you and use it
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Have a low threshold for sending guests for evaluation if they are staying in a shelter where COVID 19 could conceivably spread rapidly through the population
  • To keep the risk of Covid-19 as low as it can be, take common-sense precautions and be hyper-vigilant in preparing for what could become a more serious situation in the future 

Please refer to the following resources for the latest updates on coronavirus and Friends updates:

It is painful to disrupt the normal way Friends volunteers lovingly serve our guests as family around tables, but these adjustments to our ideal offers the best opportunity to focus on everyone’s wellness as we carry out our mission of Food for Living and Tools for Life.   We can’t do it without you.  All of us at Friends are deeply grateful to all of you for your cooperation, and to the many people across our community who are working around the clock to respond to and address Covid-19.

We will continue to share as much new information as possible, as soon as we can.  Friends updates related to Covid-19 will be available at https://www.friendsinthedesert.org/Updates.

Please take care of yourselves and of each other, and join us as we endeavor to find ways to care for the nutritional and community needs of our vulnerable guests.

Sincerely, Friends in the Desert Foundation, Inc.

---CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES ---