We must all adapt to the severe impact that the Corona Virus is having on previous standards for social gatherings. All activities where gatherings are happening, no matter the location, must comply with the new University rules and guidelines.
Helpful Resources for Event Food
Off-campus caterers will be suspended for Fall 2020. Simply put food provided by off-campus vendors will be prohibited until further notice as we do not allow any perishable food to be purchased or served by non-dining staff. There are three main issues with allowing food prepared from an outside caterer to being served on campus:
- There will be increased needs campus-wide related to cleaning and sanitizing facilities. Non-regulated food and outside catering will add precious time to the cleaning standards, not to mention tax the on-site facility/event managers as they attempt to regulate new safety rules.
- Limit opportunities for non-essential guests to be on campus.
- The inability for the university to verify/control proper food safety and serving practices for off-campus vendors.
Taking these guidelines into account, Horseshoe Catering (HC) will be the university’s preferred option to serve food. HC can provide a variety of catered and single serve options for all occasions (meals, snacks, desserts) that can be either safely served, delivered or picked up by the client. The student catering guide will apply to all student organization and University Housing events. The webpage is https://usc.catertrax.com and be sure to note the link for “Additional Pick Up Options Catering Guide” which includes Einstein bagels, Chick-fil-a, and Twisted Tacos.
One appealing option for smaller events in residence halls and learning communities will be serving commercially pre-packaged snack and beverage items purchased through either the Student Catering Guide or from a local grocery store. There are endless varieties of items sold as single pack /can servings which when properly sanitized can be used to provide food for an event. Pre-packaged snacks and beverages must be served according to the guidelines outlined in this document.
In the past, food items, such as pizza, brownies, cookies, tacos, sandwiches, etc. were placed on tables for individual pick up by participants. Such food offerings are not prohibited, but strict food distribution guidelines must be followed for safe dispersal to participants. Some items, such as pizza, will require the event to be catered, but others that are commercially pre-packaged or available through the student catering guide may be served.
There may be certain events, meetings, or activities that do not require food, might infringe of use of event time, or present a safety hazard for a location. Such events may be easier to conduct without food or by inviting participants to “bring your own” lunch, snack, or drink. Outdoor meetings and recreational events such as hikes, walks, yoga, movies on the lawn, etc. are good examples of occasions when this might be appropriate. Given the time commitment for safe food handling, social distance monitoring, and clean up, activities without food may become a more popular choice for meetings; with catering and commercially pre-packed food being reserved for community building and recreational events.
Food Distribution must be done in a safe manner in compliance with guidance given by university officials. Likewise, cleaning and waste disposal following any activity must also be done to leave a healthy environment where the event was held.
There are only two food distributors available at this time – 1) Aramark for catered events, and 2) Event Leads or their designees for commercial prepackaged or Aramark provided meals, snacks, drinks and desserts.
Aramark events that are catered will provide a broader variety of food options when selecting the on-site catered option. For these events, Aramark staff will set up the safe distribution food station (plexi-glass protections, etc.) and staff to serve the food. This replaces buffet lines, but still allows meal assembly such as salads, tacos, etc., as well as safe distribution of pizza, doughnuts, bagels, chicken nuggets, etc. While this is a more expensive option it comes closest to traditional food provision at events.
Non-Aramark events where food of any kind is distributed must provide:
- A designated food distributor, responsible for sanitizing individual items before handing them to participants. This would generally be wiping the packaging with a Clorox wipe, and can be done at the time and point of distribution or prior to the event.
- A designated clean up team, responsible for collecting and disposing of trash safely, wiping down furniture and surfaces used, and returning the room to order.
- An Event Lead who is responsible for ensuring compliance with social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the safe distribution of food to participants.
- It is recommended that the Event Lead will not assume all three functions but will enlist assistance and provide guidance on how to perform those functions.
- Appropriate supplies for the safe handling of food such as gloves, Clorox wipes, cleaning spray and paper towels.