On August 5th, 2020, Governor Kemp signed the “Sandwich Bill” into law. This allows nonprofit organizations to provide meals free of charge for up to 12 weeks between May 15 and August 15–along with four additional weeks during the calendar year—without having to have a Food Service permit from the local health authority. This allows for the providing of meals during the times schools are out for the holidays and special occasions; however, those receiving funding from the United States Department of Agriculture are not included in this permit exemption. Home-preparation of food is not allowed.
Article 14, which governs nonprofit sponsored events, was also further updated to better reflect current food safety guidance. It also provides for the issuance of permits by the municipalities and county governments for nonprofit sponsored events; or any outdoor recreational activity sponsored by the state, county, municipality or related entity; or private school function; or indoor/outdoor public school function (except for public school cafeterias) operating no more than 120 hours. The local health departments may be requested by the local governments to provide inspections—not permits—at such events. An inspection fee may be assessed by the local health department of jurisdiction for such requested inspections. For example, Cobb & Douglas Public Health would assess an inspection fee for each vendor if such events are held in Cobb or Douglas counties. Those temporary food service events operating for more than 120 hours but less than 14 days will be under the permitting authority of the local health department.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions About Nonprofit Food Service Events document to help answer questions you may have concerning this new law. Our Food Service Regulations are being updated to include the change in determination of exemptions and definitions of a food service establishment. Notification of the completion of the update will be provided in the near future.