Planning a Food Sales/Service Event

Do I need a license to serve or sell food at a non-profit event?

It depends! Sites used by a non-profit organization that serves food not more than one day per calendar week and not on two or more consecutive days on the premises of the non-profit site, are exempt from needing a license from the county health department. If the site is serving food more than one day a week or for two days in a row or serving off-site, the organization must apply for and obtain a license from Johnson County Public Health. If the organization can demonstrate that it is non-profit, the $50.00 license fee is waived. Typically, a Temporary Food Service License is the type of license required.

Application for a Temporary Food Service Establishment License
More information on Temporary Food Service Establishments

Where can food for a licensed event be prepared?

Food can only be prepared at a licensed site. Food cannot be prepared in a home kitchen and brought to the site.

Food safety issues non-profit organizations need to be aware of

Non-licensed non-profit organization events need to be aware of the same food safety principles that would apply if preparing the food for a licensed event. Please see the Commercial Food Operation Educational Materials Library for more information.

Licensed non-profit organizations need to be aware of several important food safety issues. For specific information please read Temporary Food Establishment Basic Requirements. For food safety information by topic, please see the Commercial Food Operation Educational Materials Library.


"Our organization members have been preparing food in their homes for years, why do they have to change the way food is prepared for a community event?"

Preparing food for a community event presents unique food safety challenges due to the quantity of food prepared and number of people served.

The basis for the Iowa Food Code requirements is to ensure food safety for all Iowans. Most food borne disease outbreaks can be prevented if the Code requirements such as food temperature control and personal hygiene are met.