Food: a policy for MCHW, proposed to the Church Council, 25 June 2019.
- Following prolonged conversations involving Westminster City Council Food Team, Public Protection & Licensing, Central Hall Westminster Ltd (CHW), and Kudos catering, MCHW are now in a position where a new ‘food policy’ can be presented to the Church Council. Work has been undertaken by the Leadership Team and a specially convened food sub group, and the following proposals are presented for consideration and adoption
- A key consideration in relation to all the proposals in this document is that the Church Council itself becomes the responsible (and potentially liable) body in terms of lapses in food hygiene, safety and regulations in relation to a church food policy. We do have insurance relating to accidents etc., but any negligence in relation to our processes would possibly invalidate the insurance cover, leaving us vulnerable. Hence the need for a robust and sensible food policy.
- Notwithstanding this greater level of risk, this paper proposes that the Church should adopt a new food policy, but one with clear and agreed rules and boundaries.
- This food policy distinguishes between a) regular Church fellowship group meetings – where food is brought into the building and/or occasionally cooked in it – and b) special one-off (often larger) events – where food may be bought from a caterer or brought in by members of the group or family.
THE SPACES AVAILABLE TO THE CHURCH
- It is important to note the spaces in the building over which the Church has primary authority and responsibility, and other spaces in the building able to be used for Church or Church agreed events only by kind permission of CHW.
- The Emmanuel Room and the Chapel are spaces over which the Church has primary authority and responsibility. Food is not normally permitted in the Chapel, though permission is given for some regular Church groupings to have light refreshments as part of their fellowship. Rules pertaining to food in the Emmanuel Room are outlined below.
- The Broadbent Room is a space which the Church can reserve for use if it is not already being used for a commercial booking. Bought and brought-in ‘low risk’ food and light refreshments are able to be consumed in this room, as on Sunday evenings after worship. Food cannot be prepared or cooked in the Broadbent Room kitchen area.
- Serving of refreshments in the Lecture Hall after Sunday morning worship is a long agreed exception to the rules governing the building: the space being under CHW authority and responsibility. The permission to have food in the Lecture Hall on Sundays is limited to ‘low risk’ foods such as cakes, scones, biscuits etc. and any changes to this policy (e.g., a family or group wanting to bring cold cooked foods to celebrate some occasion on Sunday after worship) will require permission of CHW.
- The Aldersgate Room is the space which the Church and CHW have agreed is able to be reserved for Church/Church agreed one off events, when it is available. Commercial events have first call on it.
GENERAL RULES (i.e. rules pertaining to both a) and b) in paragraph 4 above)
- All groups and individuals bringing food into the building, whether brought from home(s) – cooked, uncooked, or to be cooked, or bought from a caterer or supplier, must sign a general waiver, taking responsibility for liability on themselves, and agreeing the rules laid out in the church food policy.
- All requests to book one off special occasions, whether in the Aldersgate, Emmanuel or Broadbent rooms, can only be made through the Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent Ministers, who will liaise with CHW staff about the availability of the room. Bookings of rooms for Church or Church agreed one off events involving food cannot be made directly with CHW staff.
- Requests to book a room for one-off special occasions are strictly limited to Church members and their immediate family members. (The Church food policy extends only to our own Church family, otherwise we exceed our ability to permit events with food in a building also licensed for commercial catering.)
- All users of rooms for all Church or Church agreed events are required to leave the room on time, properly cleaned and tidy, with all rubbish either taken away by the organisers or responsible person/people, or left in black bags with foodstuffs and other waste materials carefully separated.
- No alcohol can be brought into the building, opened or consumed in relation to any and all Church or Church agreed events.
- All Church and Church agreed bookings must comply with general safety regulations governing the whole building. Particularly this prohibits lit candles, indoor and outdoor fireworks, and helium filled balloons.
- Failure to comply may result in a refusal to agree any subsequent requested event.
THE EMMANUEL ROOM
- Food can only be prepared and cooked in the Emmanuel Room, where there is an equipped kitchen and appliances belonging to the Church. Food cannot be prepared and cooked in any other room.
- At all times and in all cases when food is being prepared and cooked in the Emmanuel Room, at least one person must possess the appropriate level food hygiene certification. It is anticipated that the Church will provide periodic opportunity for members to undergo food hygiene training. A list of people with valid food hygiene certifications will be kept in the Church Office.
- An ‘accident’ book will be kept in the Emmanuel Room and all incidents and accidents must be recorded there.
- Food brought or prepared and cooked in the Emmanuel Room cannot be ‘sold’ but must be for the sole purposes of church fellowship, and consumed in the context of an occasion of church fellowship.
- Consequently, the kitchen in the Emmanuel Room cannot be used to cook food intended for sale, or for personal use.
- A ‘food policy’ document will be produced with these and any other instructions, and all regular and one off users of the Emmanuel Room will be required to sign, in addition to the waiver, their agreement to maintain the rules.
ONE-OFF OCCASIONS SUCH AS BIRTHDAYS OR THANKSGIVINGS ETC.
- Most larger ‘one off’ occasions will take place in the Aldersgate Room, when it is available and with the permission of CHW.
- The organisers or responsible person/people must comply with all general rules of this policy.
- The organisers or responsible person/people must supply accurate numbers of those invited to or expected at their event. Numbers cannot exceed those identified by safety and fire regulations for the room in which the event takes place.
- The organisers or responsible person/people must ensure that the event ends at time agreed. The agreed end time is the time the building must be vacated and relates to safety regulations and security staffing.
- The organisers or responsible person/people may be liable to pay the costs of services required and not provided by the Church. e.g. if the event entails the building being open at times when it would normally be closed, then staff charges for security will be charged. Specified levels of security is required by law whenever the building has people in it. e.g. if the organisers want microphones, music systems, screens etc, they can either arrange for them to be provided, or use White Light, the in-house providers of such equipment, though this will entail charges.
- The organisers or responsible person/people can purchase food from an outside caterer or supplier. In this way food preferred by the many ethnic and national groupings within the membership of the Church can be chosen. However the following conditions apply in all cases:
- All caterers and suppliers must themselves be properly regulated and licensed in terms of the preparation, cooking, chilling and reheating, transporting and serving of food. Evidence of the appropriate certification and licensing will be required before an event using a caterer or supplier will be agreed.
- There is no ability for such caterers to cook food in the building itself.
- If caterers or suppliers are not being used (e.g. a group or family are asking friends and/or family to bring food to the occasion), then cooked foods are permitted, but must have been chilled after cooking and be served cold. There is noprovision of professional quality chillers or (re)heaters.
- The Church reserves the right to remove lukewarm cooked food at any time, owing to the greatly increased risks of all such foodstuffs, and the possible liability it may incur.
- In consequence, at all events desiring hot food the organisers of that event must either use caterers who have the means to safely serve it, or themselves hire the professional level equipment to heat and serve it.
- The Church is providing the space, which will contain the appropriate number of tables and chairs. All other equipment is the responsibility of the organisers or responsible person/people. Consequently:
- The organisers of an event are required to supply all materials necessary for the event. e.g. table cloths, cutlery, crockery, glasses, napkins etc. Unless otherwise agreed, the use of disposable equipment should be used, owing to much lesser risk of contamination than metal cutlery and ceramic dishes etc.
- There are no charges for Church fellowships and groupings using Church spaces for their regular meetings.
- There will not normally be a charge for one-off Church or Church agreed events, such as birthdays, thanksgivings etc, but donations to general Church funds will always be welcome.
- This Food Policy will be updated periodically and the contents of the most recent Policy will be applied in all cases.