As cities and states across the country resume indoor dining, the Delta variant picks up speed, and mask guidance remains inconsistent, the Aspen Institute’s Food & Society Program is partnering with Rouxbe to release a free online training course that promotes safe restaurant dining for both customers and staff, including guidance on vaccinations. This training program, supported by the CDC Foundation, is based on the first national indoor dining safety guidelines, Safety First, released in April 2021 in partnership with prominent restaurant industry leaders and organizations. Safety First is a comprehensive guide to what managers and workers must know to keep their workers and diners protected from Covid in the face of shifting community transmission. Its two principle infographics, the Diner Code of Conduct and Our Covid Pledge, lead with the importance of helping all staff and diners get vaccinated; they are also available in Spanish and Mandarin.  

“Restaurants are confused. Workers are confused. Diners are confused,” says Corby Kummer, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Food & Society Program. “Current Covid news shifts by the week—but the uptick in Covid-19 cases, including among the fully vaccinated, puts renewed focus on the need to ensure safe working conditions and eating environments. For restaurant owners and their staff, that means understanding how best to continue to protect workers and diners while we wait for easy and reliable proof of vaccination and the frequency of testing to rise.”

The new Safety First trainings offer invaluable sector-specific guidance for restaurant operators to keep their workers and guests safe in the face of varying vaccination and transmission levels around the country. “This Safety First course will offer clarity at a moment when the restaurant industry urgently needs it,” says Ken Rubin, Chief Culinary Officer with Rouxbe who helps with the development of all online courses. 

The training also includes insights into how to find nearby vaccination sites, guidance for all food-service workers to build their own personal-health plan, and the importance of discussing mental health and finding nearby resources as the pandemic continues. Those insights are part of the recently announced CDC Foundation Food Worker COVID-19 Health Safety Toolkit.

The course is organized by units, each about 15 to 20 minutes and includes short videos that showcase the voices and perspectives restaurants and foodservice workers. The course also includes learning tasks and resources including knowledge checks to review what has been learned. The entire course can be completed at once in about 90 minutes.  

Food & Society’s Safety First guidelines were generously supported by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and Food@Google.

Food Safety, Industry News