Picnics and potlucks in the time of COVID-19

With warmer weather, many of us are heading outside and anxious to reconnect with family and friends. Even though there is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through food or food packaging, being together with others does increase the chance of exposure to the disease. What are some best practices for picnics and potlucks in this summer of COVID-19? The Wisconsin Department of Health Services continues to discourage gatherings of people, even among extended family members. While not recommended, if you are having a few family members, or even some neighbors, over for a picnic, take some precautions for a COVID-19 informed picnic or potluck.


  • Do gather with a limited number of people, preferably family members in your immediate household. Limit your gathering to no more than 10 people.
  • Do picnic in your backyard or on the patio, outside where there is plenty of space to spread out.
  • Do offer plenty of hand sanitizer. Sanitize hands when you gather, and always before eating or touching food.
  • Do discourage a lot of hand-to-food contact; offer individually packaged snacks and other items instead.
  • Do practice social distancing outside by spacing lawn chairs at least 6 feet apart.
  • Do remember food safety practices!


  • Avoid a picnic in a crowded park or common space. Avoiding crowds helps protect you from exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Avoid being too close together just because ‘it’s family.’  Practice social distancing by placing chairs at least 6 feet apart.
  • Avoid sharing utensils. And limit the amount of food that is shared outside the immediate family.
  • Avoid handling foods and beverages unsafely.  Now is not the time to get sick with a foodborne illness!

The FDA has tips for Handling Food Safely When Eating Out of Doors. Make your time with family memorable for all the right reasons! Stay well and food-safe, Barb