Health and Safety Protocols

The guidelines below should be followed in order to protect the safety of volunteers as well at the person(s) being assisted.

Ottawa Public Health

Volunteers are asked to review and follow all guidance from Ottawa Public Health.



Public Health Ontario

Volunteers are asked to review and follow all guidance from Public Health Ontario. 

Ottawa Cares Volunteer Coordinator

Michelle Ruel, (613)903-9770


Volunteer Protocol Update for Stay-at-Home Order - April 7, 2021


The Ontario Provincial Government has just announced a stay-at-home order effective tomorrow (Thursday, April 8, 2021). This stay-at-home order puts further restrictions on businesses and families in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.


The service that you, an Ottawa Cares volunteer, provide is essential and now is more important than ever. Ottawa Cares volunteers are the heart and soul of our initiative and your safety is always top of mind in everything we do.


During these stay-at-home orders, we want to ensure that you continue to feel supported and safe. In consultation with partner food banks, we have updated protocols for pick-up of food hampers from food banks and delivery of food hampers to residents.



Physical distancing, masks and proper hand hygiene.


These remain the best tools in controlling the spread of Covid-19.


Masks – are to be worn throughout the entire volunteer delivery shift. More information on mask use here.


Physical distancing – even outdoors when wearing a mask, it is important to maintain physical distancing. This includes throughout pick-up as well as delivery of food hampers.


Hand Hygiene – proper and frequent hand hygiene is important to slow the spread. When handwashing with soap and water is not possible, use hand sanitizer.




Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Individually packed PPE – a medical grade mask and disposable gloves -- will be provided to you by food bank staff when you arrive to pick-up your hampers for delivery. We are making these PPE available to you through the financial support of the Red Cross and Government of Canada.


You are encouraged to wear the medical grade mask under your cloth mask to provide more layers of protection and a better fit. Please wear your masks for the duration of your delivery shift. Please click here for a tutorial on proper procedures for putting on and removing masks.


Gloves will also be provided but the use of gloves is not required. Please click here for a tutorial on proper procedures for putting on and removing disposable gloves. A reminder that disposable gloves are not an alternative for proper (and frequent) hand hygiene.



Outdoor Pick-up at Food Banks


All food banks have moved to outdoor pick-up of food hampers. As often as possible, Ottawa Cares staggers pickup times for volunteers to avoid congestion. To help, please arrive as close to your scheduled pick-up time as possible. If the pick-up area is crowded, please wait in your car until your fellow volunteers have loaded their car and cleared the pick-up area.



Outdoor, Contactless Drop-off of Food Hampers


Ottawa Care is changing protocols for volunteers delivering hampers to apartment buildings.  All food hamper drop-offs are to be outdoor and contactless.


*Volunteers are not to enter the lobby of an apartment building to use the buzzer.

This is a change from previous protocols and ensures the entire volunteer experience remains exclusively outdoor and contactless. Partner food banks will be updating intake workers and food bank clients with these new protocols.


* Volunteers should notify residents of a delivery arrival.

Upon arriving at an apartment building, notify the resident by phone or using the doorbell (provided the doorbell is outdoors). Residents without a phone may be waiting for their delivery at the front lobby door.


* Leave food hampers outside of the entry door.

Volunteers are not to enter a home or apartment building to drop off food hampers. Food hampers must be placed outside of the main entry door. 




Confirming a Successful Pickup


As always, volunteers are asked to receive visual confirmation that the order has been received. If attempts to contact a resident by phone are unsuccessful, please contact the volunteer coordinator. These orders will have to be returned to the food bank.


An unsuccessful delivery attempt can be a difficult situation to face as a volunteer. Please be assured that food bank staff will follow up with residents after an unsuccessful delivery, often these deliveries are completed the following day.





  • Strictly adhere to physical distancing guidelines laid out by Ottawa Public Health

  • Before leaving home, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (best) or use hand-sanitizer (min 70% alcohol content)

  • Minimize touching your face

  • Volunteers are required to wear a mask, or face cover (nose and mouth) throughout the entire delivery

  • Use hand sanitizer after each delivery

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick!

  • Volunteers will be required to complete a COVID-19 screening assessment prior to each shift (will be included with in an email with the route information).

    • Volunteers will only be permitted to return to volunteer once they have received a negative Covid-19 test.​

  • Ottawa Public Health discourages the use of gloves and instead encourages practicing diligent hand hygiene (source).​

  • NOTE: Cloth face masks (donated by local sewers) and hand sanitizer (donated by Big Rig Brewery) are available to volunteers at any time by request. ​



  • If you have any symptoms (even just cold symptoms). Stay home and take the Covid-19 Self-Assessment

  • If you have been in contact with a person who is sick OR think they are sick -- even if they have not been tested yet.

  • Please inform the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible. 


  • Volunteers are asked to wear cloth face masks and carry hand sanitizer. 

    • Cloth face masks (donated by local sewers) and hand sanitizer (donated by Big Rig Brewery) are available to volunteers by request.​

  • Ottawa Public Health discourages the use of gloves and instead encourages practicing diligent hand hygiene (source).​


Delivery Protocols



  • Volunteer registration and scheduling is coordinated through local tech company InitLive. 

  • Through InitLive, weekly "volunteer shifts" will be created and sent out to volunteers for signup.

    • Volunteers are invited to sign up for these shifts through InitLive.

    • Shifts are updated and sent out weekly! 

  • In coordination with the Food Bank(s) deliveries will be ready to go on:

    • RRCRC Food Bank (815 St Laurent, former Rideau High School)​​

      • Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. ​

      • Fridays at 8:30 a.m.

    • Partage Vanier (161 Marier Ave)

      • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays between 12:00 and 12:45 p.m.​*

      • *Delivery pick up times at Partage Vanier are typically staggered to avoid congestion. Exact pickup time is provided the evening before the delivery.

    • Parkdale Food Centre

      • Tuesdays between 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.​

      • Wednesdays between 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

      • Thursdays between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

    • Dalhousie Food Cupboard

      • Wednesays and Thursdays between 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.​

  • Drivers are asked to arrive at the Food Bank at their assigned time to pick-up their assigned orders (food hampers) and complete their deliveries. 

  • Delivery should take 1-2 hours. 

  • Deliveries are scheduled ahead of time. Volunteers will receive their route information the evening before a delivery. ​


  • For delivery days, each volunteer will be given their own “route” to complete. 

  • Route information will be sent out the evening before the assigned delivery. 

  • The assigned number of boxes will vary depending on the size of the vehicle registered by each volunteer. 

  • Please be sure to clean out any large items from the back of your vehicle and notify us if you will be driving a different vehicle. 

  • Occasionally Ottawa Cares may ask volunteers to drive in teams of two (each volunteer in their own car) as a convoy.  

  • Routes will be sent out via email the evening before a scheduled delivery.


Here is an example of what your route information will look like! 

This is the address for the Food Bank where volunteers will collect their orders. 
Contains information relevant to your route!
These are the delivery stops you will be making! 
Addresses will be listed in delivery order
Click on the address to expand and see more information such as apartment number and phone number
Prefer paper copies of route information? Download as a PDF for easy printing!


​Always follow health & safety protocols for delivery.

  • If something does not look safe or you are unsure, do not approach the building. Instead call Ottawa Cares Volunteer Coordinator (Michelle Ruel, (613)903-9770).

Completing a Delivery

  • Picking up boxes 

    • Pickup protocols will vary slightly at each Food Bank. Location specific pickup information is listed below.​

    • Make sure to double check route information for food bank address and pick up time! 

  • Drive to your first delivery address.​

    • DO NOT use your phone while driving. Instead, enable navigation mode on your google maps app to give you hands-free, turn-by-turn directions to your destination.

    • Pull over at a safe place if you are lost or need to consult your phone for directions. 

  • Upon arrival at the delivery address, double check the order number and ensure that you have the correct box(es). Order numbers will be written on the outside of each box.

  • Dropping off an delivery

    • Never go into a residence. Ever. 

      • This is especially important in limiting the spread of COVID-19 through asymptomatic spread.

    • Deliver the hamper(s) to the porch or front steps.

    • Knock or ring the doorbell and walk back to your car, or at least 6 ft away from the door. 
    • Visually confirm that resident receives delivery and brings it into their residence.

    • If there is no answer at the door, it is an apartment building, or there is no easy access to a front door, then please call to inform the resident of your delivery. 

  • Calling a resident to inform of delivery

    • Volunteers will be provided phone numbers to call and inform residents of their deliveries.

    • Volunteers are encouraged to block their phone numbers by entering #31# followed by the phone number. 

    • When calling please identify yourself as an Ottawa Cares Food Bank Delivery Volunteer and ask the resident if they can come outside to greet you and collect their order. 

Update: April 7, 2021: During provincial stay-at-home order, Ottawa Cares has changed delivery protocols. Volunteers are no longer able to enter a building to use the buzzer. This keeps the entire volunteer experience outdoor and contactless. 

  • Delivering to apartment buildings.

    • Please buzz or phone resident to inform them of delivery. 

    • If entering a building to use the buzzer:
      • ​Wear your cloth mask​
      • Apply hand sanitizer before and after entering lobby. 

      • Boxes are still to be left outside building. 

    • Under no circumstances are volunteers should volunteers pass beyond the lobby of a building or deliver boxes outside an apartment door.

  • Volunteers will be given the buzzer number and phone number for residents living in apartment buildings. ​

  • If the resident does not answer their door:

    • Never leave a box outside unattended. ​

    • Call the Ottawa Cares Volunteer Coordinator.

    • Wait while Ottawa Cares attempts to reach the hamper recipient by phone. 

    • If a direct delivery is not possible, volunteers will be asked to return the boxes to the Food Bank.

  • If the resident is physically unable to come outside to collect their boxes:

    • In the battle against food security it is tempting for to make an exception and enter the building to deliver boxes. Simply put, please do not. Under no circumstances are Ottawa Cares Volunteers to enter beyond the main lobby of a building. ​

    • Ask resident if they have a friend or neighbour that can help them to collect the boxes

    • Please call the Volunteer Coordinator to inform them so that alternate arrangements can be made. 

    • If a direct delivery is not possible, volunteers will be asked to return the boxes to the Food Bank

  • You are finished delivery once all boxes on your assigned route have been delivered! Give yourself a hug, because YOU ARE AMAZING!



Q: Are delivery recipients notified of their delivery in advance? 

A: Yes! Intake calls are received and deliveries are often booked the day before. Recipients are given a clear window in which their order will be delivered. 

Q: I am out for deliveries and someone is asking about our services. What do I tell them?

A: The intake line for each respective Food Bank is included along with the route information. This can be given out to people who wish to book a food bank appointment or delivery. Please feel free to phone the Volunteer Coordinator if they have any questions you can't answer! 

Q: Can I enter a residence / apartment building to deliver an order directly?

A: No! Under no circumstances can an Ottawa Cares volunteer enter a residence. If a resident informs you that they are unable to leave their home to collect their order then please contact the volunteer coordinator. Oftentimes alternative arrangements can be made to find neighbours or staff inside the building who can assist with the last part of the delivery. 

Drivers are allowed to enter the lobby of a building to use the buzzer system. Volunteers are required to wear their masks and encouraged to apply hand sanitizer before and after entering the lobby. 


Q: What do I do if I discover someone in crisis? 

A: If there is an immediate danger or a life threatening emergency then please take steps to ensure your safety and call 9-1-1. 


If you discover a resident in crisis and who is not in immediate danger (i.e. - mental health crisis, hunger crisis), please notify the Volunteer Coordinator so that a social services professional can follow up. 

Q: Can I drive with a friend / spouse / family member? 

A: Absolutely! We have many volunteers who are spouses, or even parent / child combos! We strongly recommend that volunteers only share a car with members of their household or social “bubble”. Ottawa Cares will never ask volunteers to share a car.  

If both volunteers are driving in one car then please only sign up one volunteer for the shift! If both volunteers are driving in separate cars then please sign up each volunteer for the shift. This way volunteer coordinators know exactly how many boxes they can assign per route. 


Q: My car is in the shop. Can I drive a different car?

A: Absolutely. Just let us know if you are switching to a smaller car (from an SUV to a sedan for instance). We do take the size of the car into account when designing the routes. 

Q: No one is answering the door. Can I leave the boxes outside the door?

A: No! Any food hampers that can not be delivered directly to residents must be returned back to the food bank. Oftentimes the food bank will reach out to the resident and re-schedule the delivery. 

Volunteer Protocol