Food & Fun at Local Events: Know When You Need to Call Kendra!

Calling all food booth operators! Partner with Environmental Health Services for safe and legal food at your next event!

Have you visited a local event such as the Lemon Festival, seen the food booths, and thought that you’d love to have food and/or beverages available for the public at your organization’s next event? Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services (part of the Public Health Department) regulates all food/beverage service to the public, and we’d love to work with you to make sure your next event involving food is fun, safe, and legal.

What type of event needs a permit?

Any event where food or beverages are served, sold or distributed to the public may need a health permit (Temporary Food Facility Permit), regardless of whether or not the food / beverages are sold or given away. Factors such as the legal structure of your organization (for-profit / non-profit), the length or frequency of your event, the number of food booths and the type of food or beverages you plan to provide all help determine what types of permits, if any, are needed for your event.

Does my private wedding, birthday party or BBQ with friends need a health permit?

Personal private events, such as birthday parties, weddings, and family gatherings do not need health permits. However, any caterer hired for these events does need to have a current health permit issued by Environmental Health Services. This health permit is different from a business license. If the caterer you are considering does not have a current health permit with our department, we can help them get one; please have them contact our office at (805) 681-4900.

What about events hosted by my club, church, service group or other membership-based organization?

Events hosted by membership-based groups may or may not need a permit, depending on the type of the event, where it is held, and who is invited. Give us a call to talk about your event. We are happy to help you explore your options and select the type of food/beverage service that is best for you.

How much do permits cost?

Event organizer permit fees are $500 per event; food booth permit fees are either $84 or $180 per booth depending on the type of food served. Non-profit organizations that submit completed applications to Environmental Health Services at least two weeks before an event may have the fees waived.

If I hire a food truck for my next event, do I need to get an additional health permit?

If you are hiring a food truck or cart with a current Santa Barbara County Health Permit, no additional health permits are necessary. Don’t know if the truck or cart you’re considering has a current permit? Ask the owner for a copy, or give us a call! It only takes a couple of minutes for us to look it up in our database.

If you would like to hire a truck or cart that doesn’t have a health permit in Santa Barbara County, they will need to get one before your event. The truck/cart owner can contact our office directly for assistance.

Do I need to have any special training in order to operate a food booth?

Most food booths need at least one person trained in food safety in the booth at all times. We offer free food safety training classes for temporary food facility operators on a regular basis in both our Santa Maria and Santa Barbara offices. Pre-registration is required.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call or e-mail.

The staff at Environmental Health Services know that learning about laws and permits can seem complicated, so we have a specialist dedicated specifically to temporary food booths and festivals! Kendra Wise handles festival and food booth coordination for our Santa Barbara office, and would be pleased to answer any questions you may have. You can reach her at (805) 681-4936,, or 225 Camino del Remedio, Santa Barbara, CA, 93110.

Don’t hesitate to contact Kendra early in the planning process, when she can be helpful in making it happen.  You can also visit our website and learn more about all of our programs at:  We’d love to help you move forward with a fun, food-filled event!