“Church Ladies Law” requires trained volunteers for food served to the general public

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

[email protected]


One of the changes made during the last Minnesota legislative session affects faith-based organizations serving at events where a license would not normally be required.

“This is being referred to as the ‘Church Ladies Law,’” said Morrison County Public Health Director Bonnie Paulsen.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 157.22 allows faith-based organizations to be exempt from needing a license for food served at a church, temple, mosque or synagogue as long as the people being served are a private group and not the general public. This would include funerals, weddings, potlucks and fellowship meals.

But when an event is open to the public, such as a fundraiser or community event, a certified food manager or a volunteer trained through a food safety course needs to train the food preparation workers in safe food handling practices.

Food prepared on-site that is then transported to another location (for Meals on Wheels, Loaves and Fishes or other such group) is not exempt and does require a license.

“We offer a ‘Cooking Safely For a Crowd’ class which is held annually,” said Michelle Fussy, environmental specialist for the Morrison County Public Health Department.

“The April class had 56 attendees who listed themselves as being from eight churches in Morrison County,” said Fussy.

The churches represented at the training were: Lincoln Evangelical Free Church, Cushing; United Methodist Church, Motley; Holy Trinity Parent-Teacher Organization, Pierz; St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Randall; St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Swanville; and First Baptist Church, Zion Lutheran Church and Living Hope Assembly of God Church, all of Little Falls.

“There were perhaps people from other churches attending, but they did not register under a specific church name,” Fussy said.

Each faith-based group represented at the class receives a copy of a sample kitchen manual that they can incorporate into their own kitchens.

The class was presented by Minnesota Extension Service.  Morrison County Environmental Health staff members, Michelle Warnberg and Fussy, presented the law portion of the class and were also on hand to answer questions.

“While the class is generally offered once a year, a new one could be scheduled for a minimum of 15 people,” Fussy said. “An alternative is to purchase a $3 CD from the University of Minnesota Extension Service Web site and show that to the group.”