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Keeping Food Safe Outdoors

On March 22, 2012, the Philadelphia Board of Health adopted a regulation to ensure the health and safety of food provided outdoors to members of the public who may be hungry or unable to purchase food.

For many years, the Office of Food Protection has regulated food sold to the public. This regulation puts in place reasonable health and safety standards for food provided for free.

Among the main requirements of the regulation:

  • Organizations that serve food to the public outdoors must have a person trained in food safety on site and in charge during the time that food is provided to the public.
  • All food must be prepared in an approved kitchen unless the food is served within four hours from preparation, in which case it may be prepared in a private kitchen that includes basic food safety requirements.
  • Organizations must post a City-issued Outdoor Public Service Food Safety Permit during the time that food is served to the public.
  • A temporary hand washing station must be available where food is served, and hands must be properly washed prior to food handling and between glove changes.
  • Free food safety classes are provided by the Office of Food Protection throughout the city on a regular basis. There is no cost for the Food Safety Permit.
  • To sign up for a food safety class, or for more information, please call Bernard Finkel at 215-685-7497 or Palak Raval-Nelson at 215-685-7489.


Serving Food on the City Hall Apron
Beginning May 1, 2012, the City of Philadelphia will provide an area on the north side of City Hall for organizations that want to serve free food to Philadelphians who are hungry. To provide food outside City Hall, the following will be required:
  1. An Outdoor Public Service Food Safety Permit
  2. An approved City Hall Outdoor Food Service Application
  3. Notice from the City of approval of the day and time available to serve food.

Fighting Hunger in Philadelphia

Help Lines

Food Information Hotline
Helps find food resources in your neighborhood.
Operated by the Hunger Coalition
215-223-3989 (24 hours)

Philabundance Food Help Line
Call the hotline if you are in need of food.
Operated by Philabundance
800-319-3663 (M-F, 8:30 am -4:30 pm)

SNAP (food stamp) Hotline
Find out if you qualify for SNAP (food stamps), and to start your application.
Operated by the Hunger Coalition
215-430-0556 (M-T, 9 am-7 pm; F, 9 am-5 pm)

First Call for Help
Provides phone numbers for different kinds of help: food, clothing, housing, etc.
Operated by the United Way
211 (M-F, 9 am-5 pm)


Center for Hunger-Free Communities
This project of the Drexel University School of Public Health focuses on research and policy issues related to hunger.

The Food Trust
The Food Trust works to improve people's health and end malnutrition by ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and nutrition education.

Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
The Hunger Coalition provides information on different food programs to low-income Philadelphians, including SNAP (food stamps) and emergency food resources.

Philabundance works to reduce hunger through a broad spectrum of social services including food cupboards, emergency kitchens, shelters, daycare and senior centers.

Women, Infant and Children's Program (WIC)
800-743-3300 (toll free)
WIC is a supplemental food and nutrition education program funded by the government. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who have given birth within the past 6 months, and children who are under 5 years of age are eligible.