US 20020178975 A1
A cover (14) protects a food tray (12) and the like and provides a sanitary environment on the tray for home, restaurant and travel use. The cover includes a overlay portion (15) and a peripheral portion (16). The material of the overlay portion, which is substantially impermeable to liquid and which is positionable atop the tray, has a span greater than that of the tray so that its peripheral portion can extend beyond the edge of the tray. An elastic material (16) is secured to or held within the peripheral portion so that it can be wrapped underneath the tray and thereby secure the cover to the tray. After use, the cover is removable from the tray along with any liquid and solid material or other mess that may exist on the cover.
1. A cover for protecting food trays and the like including:
a overlay comprising material which is substantially impermeable to liquid and which is positionable atop the tray having a span greater than that of the tray and a peripheral portion extendible therebeyond; and
elastic material coupled to said peripheral portion and disposed to wrap said peripheral portion underneath the tray and thereby to secure said overlay thereto and to allow said overlay and said elastic material to be slipped over the tray for installation thereover and removal therefrom and, therefore, to permit any liquid and solid material placed on said overlay to be removed from the tray when said overlay and said elastic material are removed from the tray.
2. A cover according to
3. A cover according to
4. A cover according to
5. A cover according to
6. A method for protecting food trays and the like comprising the steps of:
overlaying material which is substantially impermeable to liquid atop a tray and which has a span greater than that of the tray and a peripheral portion extendible therebeyond; and
coupling elastic material to the overlay adjacent its peripheral portion; and
disposing the peripheral portion underneath the tray and thereby securing the overlay thereto to allow the overlay and the elastic material to be slipped over the tray for installation of the cover over the tray and for removal of the cover therefrom, therefore to permit any material on the overlay to be removed from the tray when the overlay and the elastic material are removed from the tray.
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 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to covers for food trays and, in particular, to covers for high chair trays and the like.
 2. Description of Related Art and Other Considerations
 Food trays, such as those incorporated with high chairs, are subject to being soiled, such as from food, liquid and general mess, which must be cleaned up. The general cleaning method is to wipe the surface by a cloth, sponge or disposable wipe, rinse the cloth or sponge or dispose of the wipe, and possibly repeating these operations several times. Despite such cleaning, the surface may not be made completely cleansed or sanitary to the user's satisfaction. A disinfectant may be further employed to remove germs. The result may satisfactory or not, to the detriment of the next user of the tray. While this is a problem which exists in the home, it becomes exacerbated in restaurant and other out-of-home locations.
 These and other problems are successfully addressed and overcome by the present invention. A sanitary cover is placed over the tray and fastened to it, such as by means of a stretchable or elastic medium, for example, by an springy band formed or otherwise attached to the peripheral portion or edge portion of the material of the cover. After food and/or liquid has been placed on the cover overlaying the tray, or has been spilled onto the cover from a dish or container, or any general mess is on the cover, the cleaning operation is simple and easy. One need simply grip the elastic edge portion from underneath the tray and fold them toward the center of the cover. The mess and/or other debris is then contained within the cover and is easily disposed of. The underlying tray remains clean and sanitary. When away from the home either temporarily or on an extended trip, the parent or other user may take several of the covers along for use in restaurants or other establishments, and feel assured of maintaining a sanitary food surface for the child. Restaurants may also use such covers for their convenience as well as for providing a service to its customers.
 Several advantages are derived from this arrangement. Use of a sanitary cover maintains the tray top sanitary. Removal of any particulate or liquid matter or mess is easily and sanitarily removed. The operation is quick and efficient, and avoids wiping or other cleaning. The use of such covers is made convenient and, perhaps necessary, when the need for a sanitary environment is desired or necessitated when away from the home.
 Other aims and advantages, as well as a more complete understanding of the present invention, will appear from the following explanation of exemplary embodiments and the accompanying drawings thereof.
FIG. 1 is a view of a high chair and tray in which a preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated as a cover for the tray;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the present invention placed on an oversized or standard tray;
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the tray and cover such as shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a front view of the tray and cover illustrated in FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a side view of the tray and cover depicted in FIG. 3;
FIGS. 6a, 6b and 6c are views of alternate shapes of the inventive cover having oversized, standard and industrial or restaurant patterns;
FIG. 7 is a profile of the cover;
FIG. 8 is a cutaway view of a portion of the cover shown in FIG. 7 illustrating its elastic edge;
FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the cover depicted in FIG. 8.
 Accordingly, FIG. 1 depicts a highchair 10 provided with a tray 12, both of which are conventionally constructed and attached together, so that the tray may be secured to and removed from the highchair. Examples of such trays are shown in FIGS. 2-5 as trays 12a, 12b and 12c, which may respectively comprise oversized, conventional and industrial or restaurant trays. The remaining components of the highchair are also of conventional construction, and need not be further described herein. Tray 12 may formed any shape, whether as specifically illustrated in FIG. 1, or otherwise configured and commonly marketed, for example, as depicted in FIGS. 6a, 6b and 6c. It is to be understood, however, that the trays illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 6a, 6b and 6c need not be devoted exclusively to highchair use; they may be used alone and adapted to the environment requiring their employ. The use, therefore, with a highchair is solely described as exemplary.
 A cover 14 is shaped to generally conform to the shape of tray 12. The cover includes an overlay portion 15 and edge portion or a peripheral portion 16, and is configured to be somewhat larger than the tray to provide a peripheral portion or edge portion 16. 16 permit the cover to overlap tray 12 as best shown, for example, in FIGS. 4 and 5. The cover may be made of a variable mil polyethylene plastic material of approximate size 36″×22″ to fit one conventionally obtainable tray, but it can be sized and shaped to make it adaptable to fit any other tray.
 Cover 14 is continuously bound along its peripheral portion or edge 16 with an elastic material 18, as depicted in FIGS. 7-9, so as to make peripheral portion 16 expandible and, thus, to allow the cover to be easily slipped over the tray. Elastic edge 16 may be formed as necessary. In FIG. 7, peripheral portion 16 comprises a tubular enclosure 20 formed from folding the edge portion of the cover material over an adjacent portion of the material and stitching, welding or otherwise affixing the material portions together. In FIG. 8, peripheral portion 16 comprises elastic material 22 sewn or otherwise bound to the cover material at its peripheral portion. FIG. 9 illustrates the underside of the cover utilizing either of the configurations depicted in FIGS. 7 and 8.
 In operation, the elastic peripheral portion generates tension to keep the cover in place, and to protect the underlying tray from food, liquids and general mess. It aids in clean up by the ease with which it is removed; one needs simply to grip the elastic edge portion from underneath the tray and fold the edge portion towards the center of the cover. The mess or whatever is one the cover is then contained therewithin and can be easily disposed of.
 Although the invention has been described with respect to particular embodiments thereof, it should be realized that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.