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Tompkins County

55 Brown Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-6600

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Temporary Food Services

Permit for Serving Food to the Public at Temporary Events

Serving food to the public requires a valid permit from the Health Department.

If you plan preparation and service of food to the public at a temporary event, please contact the Tompkins County Health Department. All food prepared/ served at temporary events must be made at the event or at a facility currently under permit.

You must complete an annual training and quiz prior to being issued a Temporary Food Service Permit.


This notice provides information on Tompkins County Health Department permit and fee changes for temporary food service events effective January 1, 2016. In 2016, fees for permit applications will be determined on the basis of menu complexity and the duration of the event. Not-for-profit organizations will continue to be fee exempt unless they have a complex menu. Not-for-profit organizations are not exempt from expediting fees. The new permit categories are listed below:

1-Day, Simple Menu. A Simple Menu is defined as an uncomplicated offering of limited ingredients in a manageable quantity. Examples include a chicken barbeque with coleslaw and a roll or a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser. This category also includes serving food delivered from a permitted caterer with hot or cold holding requirements. The 2016 fee for this permit will be $65.00. Non-profit applicants continue to be exempt from this fee.

Multiple Non-Consecutive Days, Simple Menu. This permit allows for multiple dates (up to 8) in any 120-day period for the same or similar menu at the same or similar venue. The operating dates and locations must be specified upon permit application. The 2016 fee for this permit will be $100.00. Non-profit applicants continue to be exempt from this fee.

Multiple Consecutive Days, Simple Menu. This category covers festival vendors with simple menus at events like GrassRoots, Ithaca Festival, and Apple Harvest Festival. The permit will be issued for multiple days at one event. The nature of food service at an event lasting for several days in a row poses additional food storage and safety concerns and creates additional need for review and oversight. The 2016 fee for this permit will be $100.00. Non-profit applicants continue to be exempt from this fee.

1-Day or Multi-Day /Single Event, Complex Menu. A Complex Menu is defined as an offering with numerous or difficult to prepare selections. An example might include a vendor with numerous menu items (potato pancakes, tofu scramble, various sandwiches, burgers, chili dogs, etc). Food service professionals also require this type of permit if they operate only occasionally or came into the county for special events. This category covers an event that operates up to 6 consecutive days. A single permit for non-consecutive days will not be issued for complex menus. The 2016 fee for this permit will be $150.00. Non-profit applicants are not exempt from this fee.

New Expediting Fees: As of January 1, 2016, the expediting fee for permit applications received less than 2 weeks prior to an event have also changed. Permit applications received less than 2 weeks but greater than 3 days prior to the event will be charged a $25.00 expediting fee. Applications received 3 days or less before the event will be charged an expediting fee of $50.00.

PLEASE NOTE: Submission of a permit application and fees, where applicable, does not guarantee that a permit will be issued.

If you have any questions please contact Mik Kern at (607) 274-6688 or e-mail:

To learn how to apply for a Temporary Food Service Permit click here