I'd like to open a food stand in Los Angeles to cook food for homeless people. Do I need a permit of some sort to cook food and give it away free of charge?
According to the LA County Public Health Department:
"Food facility" means an operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends, or otherwise provides food for human consumption at the retail level, including, but not limited to, the following:
- An operation where food is consumed on or off the premises, regardless of whether there is a charge for the food.
- Any place used in conjunction with the operations described in this subdivision, including, but not limited to, storage facilities for food-related utensils, equipment, and materials.
So your food stand is a "food facility" for the purposes of the law. As such, as far as I can tell, you would be subject to the same permit and inspection requirements as any other similar food facility, like a commercial food stand.