If your ministry holds an event offering food, you may need to obtain a permit or temporary food license to sell or serve certain items. Permits may be required by a state or local department of health, department of agriculture, or city clerk. Contacting these governmental offices can help you determine what requirements may apply to your ministry.
Permits are more likely to be required when:
The event involves the sale or service of food to the public.
The event lasts longer than a day.
Permits help ensure that organizations offering certain food items comply with state or local food and sanitation requirements. For non-profits, permits may also be required to avoid collecting sales tax. In some states, if food is sold to the ministry to be resold at the event, the ministry may need to obtain a resale certificate to avoid paying sales tax on the initial purchase.
If your ministry is required to obtain a permit for your event, plan to submit an application for the permit a month or more beforehand. Most government departments need a few weeks to review, process, and approve the application. After the permit has been approved, the governing authorities may conduct an inspection of the food and preparation areas to ensure appropriate sanitation practices are being followed.
There may be exceptions or exemptions from permits. For example:
Contact the appropriate governmental officials or a local attorney to confirm whether potential exemptions apply to your situation.
The penalties for failing to obtain a permit can be significant. In some states, fines may be as high as $4,000 per day that the violation occurs. In one state, failure to obtain a permit is considered a class C misdemeanor, which could include potential jail time for violators.
Ministry leaders are encouraged to consult with a local attorney about these issues.
*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.
The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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