Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a Temporary Event?

A: A Temporary Event is a single community event or celebration that occurs for a period of time not longer than fourteen consecutive days. This may include town celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Temporary events do not include events serviced by licensed caterers, such as weddings, private parties or banquets.

If you strictly want to operate at a Farmers Market, click here for details regarding Farmers Market regulatory requirements, guides and exemptions.

Q: Do I need a Temporary Food Vendor Permit if I currently hold a valid permit for my permanent Retail Food Establishment?

A: Yes, The food permit that you obtained is good for your restaurant only. Once operations occur outside the premises (not including the patio or sidewalk), a separate permit is required.

Q: Do I have to obtain a food permit for each event or will one permit cover me for the season or year? 

A: You have the option to do one or the other. If you plan on only attending one event, then there is a single event food permit. If you would like to participate in multiple events there is a partial year food permit for $150 (covers 6 consecutive months) or an annual food permit for $300. There may be additional requirements based on menu to operate under a partial year or annual food permit. Please contact the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division, at 219-465-3525 option, for requirements of a partial year or annual food permit. You could also continue to obtain single event food permits throughout the year if you are unsure of how many events you will attend.

Q:  Do I need a Certified Food Handler Certification to sell/sample food at a temporary event?

A:  Yes, a food establishment shall have at least one certified food handler. Some exemptions are allowed based on menu. Exempt foods include: 

1. Heating or serving precooked foods. 

2. Preparing or serving a continental breakfast such as rolls, coffee, juice, milk, and cold cereal. 

3. Preparing or serving nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages that are not potentially hazardous beverages or ice. 

4. Preparing or serving packaged or unpackaged foods that are not potentially hazardous foods, including elephant ears, funnel cakes, cotton candy, confectionaries, baked goods, popcorn, and chips and grinding coffee beans. 

Information on Food Handler Certification requirements and exemptions.

Q:  Can I prepare or store food products at home?

A: No, you cannot prepare or store any food products for sale or sampling at your home residence. You must have a licensed food establishment (this includes a licensed, self-contained mobile unit), use a licensed commissary, or prepare the food on site.

Q: What is required for a hand washing station for a temporary food vendor?

A: A hand washing station must consist of, at a minimum:1. Soap

2. Paper towels

3. A container with warm running water (via spigot if sinks won't be utilized)  4. A wastewater catch bucket 

5. A trash receptacle. 

Note: Hand wash station is not required If only selling or sampling prepackaged foods or beverages.

Proper setup of your temporary hand washing station (PDF)

Q: What is required for a temporary dishwashing station for a food vendor?

A: Facilities must be provided to wash, rinse, and sanitize multi-use utensils and

equipment used for food preparation at the site. If any utensils or equipment are taken off-site for washing, it must be done in a licensed food establishment or commissary. An approved chemical sanitizer and the appropriate chemical test kit must be provided and used at each site. If dishwashing facilities are not provided at the temporary event, single-service cooking and dispensing utensils must be used, or extra utensils must be provided in the event that something is contaminated (dropped on the ground, etc.) 

 Proper setup of your temporary dishwashing station (PDF).

Q:  Do I need a Temporary Food Permit if only selling or sampling prepackaged food or beverages?

A: Maybe. If you are selling or sampling prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods or beverages that are commercially prepared then no, you do not need a Temporary Food Permit (foods such as bottled soda, candy bars, packaged nuts, confectionaries, non-potentially hazardous baked goods, and bagged chips). If you are selling or sampling potentially hazardous prepackaged items then yes, you will need a Temporary Food Permit (such as prepackaged ice cream, wrapped tamales, bottled milk, etc.).

Contact the Food Service Division of the Porter County Health Department if you are unsure of whether your food would be considered potentially hazardous at 219-465-3525, Option 4.

Q: Does a Not-For-Profit (NFP) organization have to obtain a Temporary Food Permit?

A: Under the definition of the term "food establishment", a not-for-profit group (501 tax exempt status), is defined as either being or not being a food establishment. If an organization is not a food establishment, it is not subject to the requirements in Indiana Retail Food Code and, therefore, not subject to permitting and inspection requirements. The Porter County Health Department recommends that all food safety and sanitation requirements appropriate to your operation be in compliance to avoid the potential for foodborne illness. If a not-for-profit group meets the definition of a "food establishment", such as when they are operating in a restaurant or cafeteria setting with an extensive menu; or are operating as a civic, fraternal, veterans, or charitable organization operating more than 15 days per year, the organization would be subject to compliance with the Indiana Retail Food Code (410 IAC 7-24) and any food permitting and inspection requirements. Not-for-profit organizations are not charged a food permit fee in Porter County. 

Guidance on not-for-profit organizations.

Guide on proper setup of your temporary food operation (PDF).

Q: We are participating in a temporary event and will have more than one stand or mobile unit. Do I need more than one temporary food permit?

A: No, if operating stands (booth or tent) that are side by side.

Yes, if operating more than one mobile unit, or if operating more than one stand in different locations at the event.

Q: When should Temporary Food Permit Applications be submitted to Health Department?

A: Temporary food permit applications for temporary events must be submitted at least 7 days prior to setup at the event. 

Temporary Food Permit Application (PDF).

Q: I am organizing an event where I have food vendors. What do I need to do?

A: As an organizer of a temporary event at which food vendors participate you need to register with the Food Services Division of the Porter County Health Department informing us the dates and times of the event with all food vendors listed (including not-for-profit organizations). Event Coordinator applications and a final list of food vendors must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the event. 

Event Coordinator Registration Application (PDF).