Viruses and Food Service

Update: 

For fast and accurate information, the best contact method is office@gillgrilling.com.  As always you are invited to contact Brian, our President, at 443.822.0264.  Text messages will likely produce quicker responses than calls given the number of moving parts.

We have seen extraordinary momentum in both temporary and semester-long campus restrictions and virus prevention protocols.  Gill Grilling will provide campus specific updates as separate posts.  For those, click HERE.  This update will serve as general information.

What if my chapter is still operating?

If your chapter house is still occupied, we will still provide food service.  In most cases, we will be modifying food service to prevent the risk of the spread of germs.  The modifications are listed below.  Not all customers will experience these modifications–please check your campus’ post on our “latest” page to see, or contact office@gillgrilling.com.

Service modifications:

  1. Glove use required at all times.
  2. Chefs plate all meals (chapter members don’t touch serving utensils).
  3. Salad bar service discontinued.
  4. Switch to all disposable supplies (plates, silverware, etc.)
  5. Leftovers discarded and not available for self-service.
  6. Bulk service discontinued, for example cereal jugs replaced by individual cereal boxes.

For chapters that are still operating, how will the health of the chefs be monitored?

Normally health code starts requiring modified duty when employees experience fever or sore through–coughing and sneezing are not “regulated”.  However, during to be extra vigilant we are monitoring for any unusual health symptom, including coughing, sneezing, aches, etc.  We will work with employees to make judgement calls on the overall risk of community health at the chapter house.

For houses closing temporarily, what will happen?
-perishable inventory will be cleared out in advance of the University’s deadline
-non-perishable inventory will remain in dry and cold storage
-regular cleaning of kitchen
-gas to remain on
-any credits calculated and issued after service resumes

For houses closing for the rest of the semester, what will happen?
full semester cleaning and shut down
-completed in advance of the University’s deadline
-gas lines turned off
-any credits calculated and issued as soon as possible, which will likely be several weeks

Are Partial Refunds Available?

We do have a hazard clause in the contract:

Hazard.  In the event of a hazard that renders the kitchen unavailable, Gill shall suspend services.  Applicable hazards include but are not limited to break-in, theft of food or equipment, and fire.  If services are suspended for more than 48 hours, Gill shall refund Customer a monetary amount on a pro-rata basis.

We are taking deliberate time to make sure our guidance on refunds is accurate.  We have not fully determined exactly how/when/how much the hazard clause would apply in this situation. The guidance depends on a number of factors, including the approach to chef pay.  We will contact you as soon as more information is available.

What Will Happen With Employees?

This will be a challenging time for everyone, including team members whose chapter houses close down.  Most of our employees are non-exempt in accordance with Department of Labor guidelines, which means they get paid while working and not paid when not working.  This circumstance is already challenging during spring break and summer, and will be even more so with this unplanned break.  We are pursuing various administrative measures to ease this burden, including with our insurance providers and even elected representatives.

Organizations considering if/how much to refund chapter members may wish to consider the impact of a sudden loss of income for employees.  Please contact us if you are so inclined to discuss options for keeping your chef(s) employed in a way that works with your financial situation.

If you are an employee reading this, you should follow these steps:

-check with your supervisor to see if any work dates are impacted by campus protocols
-determine if you would like to redeem any available paid vacation time
-report any temporary layoff as an unemployment claim to your state
-stay in contact with your supervisor and with the updates here to be ready for re-opening of chapter house facilities
-check your email for layoff documentation if your house is closed for more than the regularly scheduled spring break

General Virus and Health Alert Info:

Over the past 2 decades, the professional food service industry has enjoyed advances in science and overall awareness when it comes to food allergies and foodborne illness.  Most foodborne illnesses (4 out of the top 5) are caused by bacteria.  However, the #1 cause is a virus: Norovirus.

Battling any virus (Norovirus, Hepatitis A, Coronavirus, etc.) starts with prevention.  The below are a series of escalating protocols available to us.  Through emails and other communication methods we are ready to implement these as needed based on local circumstances:

  1. Glove use required at all times.
  2. Chefs plate all meals (chapter members don’t touch serving utensils).
  3. Salad bar service discontinued.
  4. Switch to all disposable supplies (plates, silverware, etc.)
  5. Leftovers discarded and not available for self-service.
  6. Bulk service discontinued, for example cereal jugs replaced by individual cereal boxes.
  7. Service discontinued for non-residents–only chapter house residents may participate in the meal plan.
  8. In confirmed cases where a virus has caused illness, temporary suspension of service so all surfaces can be sanitized with virucide.

What happens if my College/University closes?

Just because the University cancels classes does not mean that our food service changes.  (This applies not only to health alerts, but also snow and other weather alerts.)  We consider ourselves as providing a service necessary to sustain life.  That sounds dramatic and we aren’t equating ourselves with doctors or first responders, but we do recognize that we are the default method of providing nutrition for most of our customers, and if we suspend operations while the chapter house is still occupied, people would face a substantial hardship in getting their meals if the shut-down was for a long period of time.  If we can help it, we’ll be open.

What if we can’t help it?

There are scenarios in which we would be forced to modify or suspend cooking.  Specifically, we are preparing for these 2 extreme possibilities:

-if our supply chain is disrupted, and we can’t receive food deliveries
-if a University shut-down also includes mandatory evacuation/quarantine and our employees are not allowed to come to work

We consider both of those possibilities unlikely, but they can and have happened.  Getting caught unprepared would be awful for everyone.  If the prevention protocols above are not enough, the next steps include:

-ordering non-perishable food, enough for 1 week’s inventory, to stock our pantries.  In the event our employees cannot come to work, we are prepared to set up video conference lines to guide chapter members/house directors in preparing the foods we have stocked.

-for houses that can operate, using them as a commissary to deliver to other chapter houses.

-closing temporarily and issuing a credit against future service.