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Mass Feeding for Emergency Operations

Finding and Equipping a Mass Feeding Site


  • Keep hot foods hot at 135°F or above.
  • Keep cold foods cold at 41°F or below.
  • Perishable foods may be held at room temperature up to 2 hours or less.
  • If unable to keep foods at proper temperatures, do not serve food that requires time/temperature control for safety, such as burgers, egg salad sandwiches, chicken, potato salad, and cream-filled desserts.
  • Do not serve home-prepared meals.
  • Minimize leftovers. Prepare only what you think you’ll need.
  • Do not allow self-service. Pre-plate or serve food.

Sanitizing cooking and eating utensils

  • Use disposable dishes and utensils whenever possible.
  • Do not reuse plastic or paper items.
  • If you must use washable dishes and utensils, clean them in a standard three-compartment sink, or a sink equipped with three separate containers that can serve as an improvised three- compartment sink.

Procedure to sanitize cooking and eating utensils

  1. Wash all items in the first sink, using a household detergent solution in clean, hot water.
  2. Rinse in the second sink, in clean, hot water. Remove all detergent residues, to ensure that the final sanitizing step will be effective.
  3. Sanitize your utensils in the third sink. Use a solution of one tablespoon bleach for each gallon of water. Make sure dishwashing water is clear and free of sludge or sediment.
  4. Air dry dishes and utensils.

Food service workers

All persons volunteering to work in your mass feeding center should be properly oriented before they begin work.

Personal hygiene

  • Food workers should wash their hands frequently, particularly after using the toilet, or after handling materials or equipment that may be
  • Food workers must keep themselves and their clothing clean. Cleanliness is essential for all people who work in the mass feeding
  • People with vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or respiratory illnesses should not be allowed to work.
  • No one with cuts, burns or other skin abrasions should be allowed to handle food unless wounds are covered with waterproof dressings or

How to wash your hands

  1. Wet your hands
  2. Apply soap
  3. Rub your hands for 10 to 15 seconds
  4. Rinse your hands
  5. Dry your hands
  6. Keep hands clean

The entire process must last at least 20 seconds. Gloves, wet-wipes or hand antiseptics are not substitutes for handwashing.

Prevent bare hand contact with food

People in a disaster can be at greater risk for getting sick from unsafe food. Food workers should use utensils, such as tongs, scoops, deli papers, or single-use gloves to keep from touching food whenever possible.

When to Wear Gloves
  • When touching food that will not be further cooked (ready-to-eat food), such as sandwiches, rolls, veggies, and cookies.
  • Wear single-use gloves when preparing foods that is handled a great deal. This includes making sandwiches, slicing vegetables, or arranging food on a platter.
How to Use Gloves Properly

When wearing gloves while preparing food, it is important that gloves be used the right way:

  • Change gloves that get ripped or torn.
  • Change gloves that get dirty.
  • Never wash or reuse gloves.
  • Change gloves when you change jobs, such as when you move from making sandwiches to cutting raw vegetables.
  • Throw gloves away after you use them.
Keep Gloves and Hands Clean

It is also important to remember that both hands and gloves must always be clean.

  • Always wash hands before putting on clean
  • Wash your hands after taking gloves off.


If possible, someone who has experience with large food service operations should supervise your mass feeding operation. Possible supervisors include school or institutional food service managers, or people who have worked as cooks, employees or managers in large restaurants.


Make sure that you have adequate space and equipment to ensure that food is cooked to proper temperatures, kept safe from contamination when stored, and held at safe temperatures.

Toilets and Handwash Sinks

  • Make sure that you have adequate numbers of toilets and handwash stations.
  • Make sure that handwash stations are stocked with water, hand soap, and paper towels

Drinking water

If your water has been contaminated or if you are unsure of its safety:

  • Use only boiled or bottled
  • Use only commercially packaged ice from approved

Garbage handling

Dispose of garbage frequently. Clean temporary garbage storage areas periodically.

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