Who Regulates Food Service in My Area?
Generally, your local health department will establish food service regulations for your community. Your health department will also be responsible for issuing licenses, establishing licensing requirements, and conducting inspections of food preparation areas (if required in your area).
If you live in a rural community, you may fall under the purview of a county health department rather than a municipal organization.
The following are some general licensing requirements as they pertain to concession stands. However, if you have any specific questions, connect with your local health department or other regulatory entity. They will be able to provide specific guidance and help you serve food safely at athletic events.
When Is Licensing Required?
As a general rule, licensing is typically not required if your concession stand is serving pre-packaged food. This is one reason why many booster clubs primarily serve pre-packaged items at their concession stands, especially when working at smaller events.
A few examples of pre-packaged items that your concession stand can serve without a food service license include:
- Beef jerky
- Bottled or canned soda
- Bottled water
- Individually packaged juice
Any of the above items can be served without a license because concessions personnel are not directly interacting with the food, just with the packaging. However, if you plan on serving prepared food like burgers, boiled peanuts, and hotdogs, your local or state government may require you to obtain a food service license.
On a positive note, many states offer exemptions for schools and nonprofits even if they are serving prepared food items. This means that your concession stand might be able to serve a full range of prepared food without obtaining licensing.
Even if your booster club is exempt from licensing requirements, we suggest that at least one volunteer complete a food service course. This will help protect the booster club and the school from any liability while also ensuring that customers receive safely prepared food.
Obtaining a food service certification is quick, easy, and affordable. You or the designated volunteer can obtain your certification via a short online course.
While there are many such courses available, you should consider using one that is endorsed by your local health department. This ensures that you are spending booster club resources on a legitimate course that teaches the attendee actionable food service skills.
When selecting who should become certified, choose a volunteer who is consistently involved in concession activities. They can share their new skills with other concession stand volunteers and help all participants practice safe food preparation habits.
Even if licensing is not required in your area, investing in safe food preparation will pay dividends for your booster club.