New permits empower home cooks in Contra Costa to sell their food

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New permits empower home cooks in Contra Costa to sell their food
Home chef pic via Pexels

By Kathy Chouteau

Contra Costa County cooks can now get a permit to sell home-cooked food, thanks to a new food permit being made available today via Contra Costa Health (CCH).

The new permit empowers Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs) to provide these meals for dine-in, delivery and takeout.

In May, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance authorizing the county to offer the permit via the terms of a 2018 state law. In offering the permit, Contra Costa County now joins fellow Bay Area locales in doing so, like Berkeley and counties such as Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano.

County Board of Supervisors Chair Federal Glover said this permit option ensures people who sell food out of their homes do so in a safe manner that protects the community’s health. “We also open the door for neighborhood businesses, and for more access to healthy, nutritious food in areas where options may be limited.”

With the permit, meals can be stored, handled and prepared to be served or delivered in private residences. In the past, a restaurant or other commercial kitchen typically would have been required.

If a home is permitted, it can also be a place to prepare food for street carts; previously, procuring a cart vendor health permit was a major roadblock in Contra Costa County.

Under the MEHKO permits, the holder can’t sell more than 30 meals daily and 90 meals weekly, and can’t exceed $100,000 in annual gross sales. Limitations also exist on the types of food that can be served.

One thing hasn’t changed for MEHKO permit holders: They will still need to meet requirements relating both to the spaces where their businesses operate and the food-safety training of operators—just like those with standard commercial food permits. Permit holders will be inspected by CCH annually or more so. MEIKO permit holders will need to display their permits at home and their health inspection records will be available at cchealth.org.

Countywide workshops will be scheduled by CCH later this year for any applicants. Learn more about the new permits here