Allow the Sale of Home Cooked Meals in Yolo County!
Yolo County Board of Supervisors
A New Law Legalized Home Cooked Food Sales:
Last year, the California State Legislature unanimously passed the Homemade Food Operations Act (AB 626)— the first law permitting home cooked food sales in the United States! With a Microenterprise Home Kitchen (MEHKO) permit, cooks can now sell prepared meals and other foods directly from their home kitchens, up to $50,000 per year. We hope the total cost of starting a MEHKO will be under $1000.
This new law provides a groundbreaking, low-barrier opportunity for home cooks to start a small food business. It is also the next phase of the local food movement and healthy, affordable food access!
However, our County must Opt-in to Participate:
Our County Board of Supervisors must vote to opt-in and begin issuing permits to home cooks. Signing this petition will let them know that their constituents want them to begin issuing permits to home cooks as soon as possible!
Yolo County Support:
The C.O.O.K. Alliance is proud to partner with Foodnome on advocacy efforts in Yolo County. Dozens of other cooks, food advocates, and economic justice organizations in the County have also submitted their formal support.
About the C.O.O.K. Alliance:
The C.O.O.K. Alliance is leading a national movement to legalize and normalize home cooked food sales. We believe that home cooking helps build healthy, resilient communities and create economic opportunities for the people that need them most.
We are deeply committed to ensuring that opportunities in this new gig economy empower cooks with greater dignity, equity, and ownership than they have traditionally found in the food industry. If done right, we believe the positive impacts of home food microenterprise reverberate from cooks into their communities and help rebuild networks of understanding and non-financial support.
Yolo County Board of Supervisors
From: [Your Name]
We are writing today to ask the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to opt in to Assembly Bill 626 (The Homemade Food Act), to legalize the sale of homemade food by Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO’s).
AB 626 went into effect at the state level in January 2019, and authorizes counties to opt in and adopt ordinances legalizing the sale of homemade food. This legislation, co-authored by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH), includes safeguards for independent cooks to start small-scale food businesses from their homes. In addition to obtaining a mandatory permit from the county health department, passing a kitchen inspection, and obtaining the California Food Safety Manager certification, MEHKOs are required to adhere to additional limitations that further reduce risk of foodborne illness, including:
a.) MEHKOs are small scale, limited to serving either 30 meals a day, 60 meals per week, grossing $50,000 a year, and are specifically restricted from engaging in catering operations. Additionally, MEHKOs are only allowed to be staffed by one full time employee. This reduces the risk of foodborne illness in MEHKOs by limiting the total food volume that they can prepare and serve, as well as limiting the number of workers that are involved in the food preparation, both of which are factors that are linked to increased risk in food establishments.
b.) MEHKOs are transparent in their standard operating procedures, being required to thoroughly describe the types of food they plan to prepare, how they will be prepared (including descriptions of individual processes), cleaning and waste disposal procedures, schedules of operation, and how foods will be maintained at required holding temperatures. This requirement gives health departments an effective means to verify that individual MEHKOs are implementing best food safety practices and working to minimize incidence of foodborne illness.
c.) MEHKOs are required to prepare, cook and serve food on the same day (no long term storage of meals or meal components) and MEHKOs are banned from working with raw milk or raw milk products, raw oysters, or preparing any food that requires a HACCP Plan (smoked, cured, pickled, or fermented foods).
Research done by the COOK Alliance indicates that there are around 100,000 underground food operations currently operating in the state of California. AB626 will provide economic opportunities for these people in our community that need them the most – often women, immigrants and people of color.
The high-cost of restaurant ownership and lack of access to commercial kitchens currently prevents the majority of would-be entrepreneurs from breaking into the industry. AB626 provides a safe and accessible solution to this problem, while also improving access to a diverse selection of healthy food in our community, particularly where there are limited options.
Please pass an ordinance to opt-in to Assembly Bill 626. Legalizing Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations will enable economic empowerment, expand access to healthy food, and create stronger communities in our county.