It’s been a big week for independent food operators in California. Two bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown will have a serious impact on home entrepreneurs looking to sell food to the public. On Monday, Brown signed the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, and yesterday approved California Assembly Bill 626. The Homemade Food Operations Act allows home cooks to sell foods prepared at home.
Coachella’s Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia authored the bill, which creates a new system for California counties. AB 626 initiates a county-level permit and inspection process for home kitchens. The state will apply strict guidelines for “microenterprise home kitchens.”
All Microenterprise Home Kitchens (MHKs) that manufacture, pack, or handle any processed food must first apply for a permit. MHKs cannot sell more than 60 individual meals per week, and maintain no more than $50,000 in verifiable gross annual sales. This does not apply to food sold to wholesalers or retailers, and if complaints are received, MHKs will receive a health inspection.
Overall, AB 626’s supporters hope for more jobs and income. Angela Janus, Executive Director of ShareKitchen a Coachella Valley based food industry development non-profit agrees. “AB 626 will help foster and grow small businesses in our community and create jobs,” says Janus. “Both our local and regional partners throughout Riverside County strongly feel that this measure will provide valuable opportunities to local cooks who can launch and grow small food businesses from home, eliminating barriers to entry into the local food economy.”
The bill’s passing might launch a new cottage industry. In early 2018, Glendale residents Ani Torosyan and Susanna Saponjyan launched DishDivvy, which allows users to purchase meals prepared in the home kitchens. But Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health considered these meals illegal. After January 1, 2019, DishDivvy’s partners or anyone with a MHK license can cook for the masses.