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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2018 12:54 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Exempting Certain Nonprofts from Overly Burdensome Food Regulations
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation to help nonprofits operate chicken barbecues, pancake breakfasts, cake wheels, and other food-based fundraisers.

In 2010, the General Assembly changed our existing food safety laws. The former 1945 Public Eating and Drinking Place Law defined a “public eating or drinking place" as “a place within this Commonwealth where food or drink is served to or provided for the public, with or without charge. The term does not include dining cars operated by a railroad company in interstate commerce or a bed and breakfast homestead or inn.” The new Chapter 57, Subchapter A in our Agriculture Code (Title 3), which replaces the 1945 law, uses the same definition.

As such, even nonprofit organizations that provide food to the public only a few times a year are required to be licensed and inspected by the licensor with jurisdiction. The new provisions of the law grant authority to a licensor to exempt retail food facilities from licensing if they operate on no more than three days per year. The new law also grants a licensor the authority to exempt from licensing those retail food facilities owned by churches and those owned by charitable nonprofit entities and managed by organizations that encourage or promote certain extracurricular school activities.

I believe we need to find a balance between responsible government oversight and nuisance government intrusion. These organizations provide important services and other benefits to our communities, and their volunteers can find oversight to be extremely difficult and costly to comply with.

My legislation would require a licensor to exempt charitable nonprofits from retail food facility licensing if they operate on no more than twelve days per year. This will give those organizations that have monthly fundraising activities that involve serving food to the public the opportunity to operate without the need to invest in expensive facilities or purchase an annual license.

Lenten church fish fries, summertime ice cream socials, and other food-centered events are all critical fundraising tools for our local volunteers and communities.

This piece of legislation was Senate Bill 369 of last session, and was cosponsored by Senators Baker, DiSanto, Folmer, Hutchinson, Rafferty, Scarnati, Vulakovich, and Ward.

Please join me in cosponsoring this bill.

Introduced as SB330