Food Safety at Churches

Since 2011 with the passage of the “Church Lady Bill,” Minnesota statute has exempted faith-based organizations from the need to obtain a food license—but there are a few conditions.

When is your organization exempt?

In many situations under this new bill, your church will not need to obtain a food license.

Exempt from licensure is:

  • Food served at weddings, fellowship meals, or funerals that are conducted by a faith-based organization using any building that is constructed and primarily used for religious worship or education. (It is acceptable to give away leftover food from these gatherings as long as safety measures are taken. When packaging leftovers, be sure to use food-grade containers that have been properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and make sure they are promptly and properly stored.)
  • Food served at fundraisers or community events that are conducted in the building or on the grounds of a faith-based organization, provided that a certified food manager or a volunteer trained in a food safety course trains the food preparation workers in safe food-handling practices.

The Church Lady Bill allows faith-based organizations to serve home-prepared food at their events, including bake sales and potlucks, without the need for a food license.

Situations that still require food licenses

Food served in any of these environments is still not exempt under the changes in the law and a license is required:

  • Schools and day cares
  • Camps and lodging facilities
  • Organization booths at the Minnesota State Fair or county fairs

If your situation requires a food license, start here.


Requirements: The Minnesota Department of Health provides more information about the exemption and requirements. Read the Minnesota Statutes Section 157.22 Exemptions and frequently asked questions. Beginning in 2014, certain rules apply to chili or soup cook-off fundraisers.

Food safety: Access Minnesota Department of Health food safety info and info on cooking for groups.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has safe food resources and a handbook containing all the basic information about food safety and preparation procedures.

The University of Minnesota Extension has info on cooking safely for a crowd, including a 20-minute training video and a food safety for volunteers handout.


Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058