Ready-to-Eat Food at Markets


Part of farmers' markets' goal is to encourage customers to linger. Why? One problem we want to solve is that customers spend a few minutes looking at all the beautiful food, get hungry and perhaps leave. While we want customers to stay and buy more ingredients for cooking at home, we also are creating community events. That means maximizing the chances that customers meet their neighbors and perceive farmers’ markets as great places to hang out. Ready-to-eat food vendors on site help markets achieve their “lingering” goals.

Each farmers’ market establishes how many restaurant food vendors should be in the vendor mix. Markets need to consider how their choice affects perceptions of the market. Too many restaurant and other prepared food vendors could change the “feel” of the market to more of a street fair than an event focused on local agriculture.

In Oregon, counties are in charge of licensing the restaurant or ready-to-eat foods that are prepared (hot or cold) on site to be consumed in the markets. This category does not include baked goods and other foods prepared in ODA licensed food establishments, which are not served as restaurant foods.

The counties and farmers’ markets both have an interest in ensuring that these food vendors handle food properly to minimize the risk of food borne diseases.

Vendors apply to their county health departments for temporary restaurant licenses, which generally require one person physically present in the operation to hold a food handler’s certificate.  Other requirements include a diagram of the booth and menu details.

Generally licenses are issued after a market accepts a restaurant vendor, so there is no license to examine at first. But market managers can contact their county health inspectors if there is any question about whether a vendor is meeting his or her responsibilities. 

Pick up a current copy of Oregon House Bill 2868