Campuses: Twin Cities | Crookston | Duluth | Morris | Rochester | Other Locations

Home > Food, Water, & HousingPolicy for Serving Food or Refreshments on University Property in Association With Meetings, Social Gatherings, and Special Events

Policy for Serving Food or Refreshments on University Property in Association With Meetings, Social Gatherings, and Special Events

University facilities are intended to be used by student or staff organizations, departments, and other University-associated groups for meetings, conferences, fundraising, and special events. University facilities are also available to individuals, groups, and/or organizations outside the "University community" on a rental basis. The serving of food is an important part of many events, and is often key to fundraising. The serving of food is acceptable when conducted by approved methods. There are also instances when desired food(s) and/or refreshments are of a type that is not available in the commercial market, or there are other special circumstances.

This policy is developed for purpose of meeting the charge of the Regents of University of Minnesota in providing a safe and healthful environment which includes the prevention of foodborne illnesses.

For the protection of students, staff, and the public attending a meeting, conference, special event, etc., on University of Minnesota property, food shall be prepared in, and/or provided by the University of Minnesota Food Service or a licensed commercial food service and have the approval of the University environmental hygiene officer or designated person at least five business days before the event.

Any exception to the above shall be discussed with and approved by the University environmental hygiene officer, a minimum of ten business days before the scheduled event.

Additional Information
See below for more detailed information, or contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS) at 612-626-6002.

Food Policy Appendix
This appendix provides additional information, background, and answers to the most commonly asked questions related to the serving of food on University property.

What is an approved commercial source of food?
An approved commercial source of food can be any restaurant, caterer, retail food store, deli, etc., that is licensed by the health authority in the community where the commercial business is located.

What is a caterer?
A caterer must have a license from the health authority allowing the business to prepare food, and have approved equipment for transportation, set-up, and serving of food at any location. A caterer also returns all food service equipment and potentially hazardous leftovers to its licensed facility.

What is carryout food?
Carryout foods can be obtained from any licensed food facility where the food is packaged or pre-packaged for the consumer.

Examples of pre-packed carryout foods obtained from a retail store include: chips, donuts, pretzels, cookies, crackers, canned or bottled soda, etc. These are foods that do not require hot or cold holding. Examples of carryout fast food are: pizza, burgers, box lunches, etc. These are foods that can be potentially hazardous but are generally eaten directly after receiving and leftovers are discarded.

Top of Page

Is special equipment ever needed?
Potentially hazardous foods served at banquets, formal meals or potlucks require serving utensils and food service equipment that maintains hot foods at or above 140°F until served and cold foods at or below 41°F until served. The University does not provide equipment, therefore, it is the responsibility of the individuals renting space to provide the required food service equipment. The University may require proof that the individuals have the required equipment before rental arrangements are finalized. The University may terminate the serving of food during the event if proper equipment or serving practices are not provided.

What is a public event?
Any individual, group, or organization from outside the University community and using University facilities will be considered a public event, and therefore must have food provided by an approved commercial food service.

Any individuals, group or organization that advertises and/or invites the general public by any means must have food provided by an approved commercial food service. Some examples are: food sales and/or sample booths, campus-wide events, theater and art events, and weddings.

Some organizations use bake sales as a means of fundraising. DEHS will approve permits for bake sales and has a set of guidelines which must be followed.

Under no circumstances will home prepared food be served at a public event.

What is a non-public event?
As a public institution, all events at the University are generally considered public. However, the nature and number of participants from the University community may make the event private. Some examples are: board meetings, organizational officers meetings, department meetings, clubs of less than twenty-five participating members.

Can food be prepared in a community kitchen?
By special approval from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, food may be prepared in an approved community kitchen such as a church or school. Equipment must be provided for the safe transportation and serving of the food. Approval must be obtained at least ten business days before the event.

Top of Page

Are there exceptions?
Provisions have been made for small groups to have potluck meals. Conditions that apply are:

  1. The food shall be restricted to the group
  2. There shall be no advertising of the event
  3. There shall be no invitations to individuals outside the group, such as a potluck to attract new members

University departments that are holding department social gathering within a building room, such as holiday gatherings, pre- or post academic year department gathering, etc., are not covered by this policy.

University departments that are holding department social gatherings on University property that requires a "Land use Permit" are covered by this policy.

When carryout fast food(s) are served to less than twenty-five participants in one of the student unions (Coffman, West Bank, St. Paul Student Center) DEHS approval is not required. Examples of this type of food include: pizza, subs, burgers, fries, chicken wings.

Are there any special requirements for serving food to the public?
DEHS has a list of requirements, which special events must comply with. The requirements are based on food service codes that are used by state and local health departments in Minnesota. DEHS is the official health department for the University of Minnesota. If individuals or groups wish to have an outdoor event there are specific requirements, which vary depending on the type of food that is served. The requirements are simple, but in accordance with health codes. These events require the individuals or groups to meet with and discuss the requirements with the University's environmental hygiene officer. Approval must be obtained at least ten business days before the event.

Are snack foods covered under this policy?
Snack foods or light refreshments that are pre-packaged, such as chips, pretzels, cookies, canned or bottled soft drinks, and commercial donuts, and are purchased from a retail market can be served at meetings without DEHS approval. It may require building approval, as related to room sanitation. Pre-packed foods that are sold for fundraising must have DEHS approval.

Where can food be served?
In general, when food is served at an outside event, it is located to meet the needs of a large number of people. This could be the mall areas on the Minneapolis or St. Paul campus, large open areas by buildings, Washington Ave. bridge, or other approved open areas. In the interior of buildings, all food must be served in designated rooms that have been reserved by the group holding the event. There are two exceptions to this requirement: approved fund raising bake sales and coffee/donut lines at conferences may be located in building corridors, provided that they do not block and/or restrict the normal fire lanes or means of egress.

What is a potentially hazardous food?
Includes a food of animal origin that is raw or heat-treated; a food of plant origin that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts; cut melons; and garlic and oil mixtures.

For additional information and approvals, contact DEHS at or at (612) 626-6002.

Top of Page