Food Sales or Service

ISU organizations and departments/units must adhere to State of Iowa Food Code and ISU procedures for food service. Food that is handled or prepared improperly can cause foodborne illness. Safety in food preparation and service is important at all ISU events.

Bake Sales | Grilling on Campus | Food Sales as Part of an Academic Course | Resources

To ensure that ISU food sales or service does not conflict with existing university food contracts and meets health and safety regulations, ISU organizations and departments/units must obtain approval for sales and/or service of food-related items. Student organizations obtain authorization through the Event Authorization system, while ISU departments/units may contact the Office of Risk Management directly ( or 515-294-7711) for assistance with licensing and procedures for food at events.

Recognized student organizations at Iowa State University may be exempt from licensing requirements when the following conditions are met:

  • The organization sells food, after approval by Event Authorization, once per week or less (and not on two consecutive days)
  • The food sale is on ISU property
  • All sales proceeds go to the recognized student organization and no members benefit personally
  • Hand-washing stations and other health/safety best practices for temporary food establishments are utilized

Foods to be sold must be prepared in a licensed kitchen and catered by an ISU Approved Caterer/Vendor (which includes ISU Dining/Catering) OR prepared on site with Event Authorization Committee or Office of Risk Management approval OR meet the requirements of Bake Sales as discussed below.

  1. When preparing food on site (burgers, hot dogs, etc.), all food supplies must come from a commercial manufacturer or an approved source. See Temporary Food Service Establishments and Farmer's Market Operator's Guidelines for more information.
  2. Home kitchens may not be used for preparation of food for a temporary food establishment.
  3. During transportation, proper food temperatures must be maintained; transport vehicles are subject to inspection.
  4. All food sales and service locations must provide appropriate and separate spaces on site designated for food preparation, hand washing/sanitation, and food service.
  5. Food given away for free at an ISU event must, however, come from an Approved ISU Caterer/Vendor and must be served according to safe food handling processes.

The above requirements do not apply to the following:

  • Food and beverage for personal consumption
  • Closed events such as departmental gatherings or student organization events for members only
  • Private tailgate parties
  • Cookouts, picnics, or potluck dinners not open for attendance by the general public or by general Iowa State University student and staff populations
  • Sale of pre-packaged foods (bottled water, packages of candy/chips, etc.)
  • Bake sales

Bake Sales

Separate policies & procedures apply to bake sales (cookies, muffins, cakes, etc.):

  • Potentially hazardous items (requiring temperature control) cannot be sold at a bake sale. Products typically suggested for bake sales include breads, cakes, buns, rolls, cookies, bars, and pies (but NOT pies containing meat, custard, and cream).
  • Bake sale products must be securely wrapped/bagged in ready-to-sell amounts to protect from contamination during display and have a label listing the common name of the product, ingredients used, and name and address of the food preparer. Label information should identify the use of common food allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, pecans or walnuts), seafood, soybeans (not refined soybean oil), and wheat.
  • All student organization bake sales must be submitted for approval through the Event Authorization system.

Grilling on Campus

Food events are approved through the Event Authorization Committee (student organization events) or Office of Risk Management (all other food events). Free cookouts, picnics, or potluck dinners not open for attendance by the general public or by general Iowa State University student and staff populations are exempt from these rules.

Personal grills are not allowed on campus.  ISU has installed stationary grills for student and staff use in various campus locations.  Approved events may use commercial grills however, Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) must transport all grills to and from campus lawns.  Contact FP&M at 515-294-0692 to coordinate.  FP&M must also be contacted to reserve campus space and provide trash receptacles for food events. 

Food Sales as Part of an Academic Course

As part of a course's curriculum or for an assignment in a course, students are not allowed to sell food items on campus, with the following exception:

  • The class can sell pre-packaged food items that are not considered potentially hazardous foods (an example of potentially hazardous foods would include foods that are required to be temperature controlled)

If a class would like to sell foods that are potentially hazardous and/or processed by the members of the class:

  • The class can partner with a student organization, and apply for approval for the event through the online Event Authorization system 
  • The class can apply for a temporary food license from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.  Note: this license requires the food service to be “in conjunction with a single event.” It is not clear if such a license would be granted for class assignments.


Application to Operate a Temporary Food Establishment

Temporary Hand Washing Station

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Publication, Food Stand Operations - What you need to know

Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals’ Food & Lodging Establishment License Applications & Resources page: