Food Vending at Temporary Events

Whether you organize a street fair, festival or other special event where food will be served to the public, or if you will be a food vendor at a special event, the Health Department can help you operate in a safe and legal manner.

  • Food vendors will need a permit to serve food. If you have an existing food service establishment permit or a mobile food vending permit, you may be able to use that permit to operate at a special event. Read the requirements of a Temporary Food Service Establishment Permit to see which permit you may need to obtain.
    • Note that if you need to apply for a temporary food service establishment permit, you will need to include information about the first event where you will use this permit. You must apply for a new permit annually.
  • See Food Safety Guidelines for food vendors at special events.
  • All food vendors in New York City must follow the NYS Sanitary Code.
  • Read the Rules of New York City Chapter 23 (PDF) governing food service sanitary inspections.

Information for Organizers of Special Events

Organizers of temporary events need to ensure that all food vendors have a permit from the NYC Health Department that allows them to serve food and beverages to the public. A permit is needed no matter how the food is offered to the customer, including from a booth, table, stand, kiosk, vehicle or cart, and whether the event is held on private property, a public street or in a park. Acceptable permits include valid Temporary Food Service Establishment (TFSE), standard Food Service Establishment (FSE) and Mobile Food Vendor (MFV).

Temporary Events

A temporary event is defined as:

  • A one-time event lasting no longer than 14 consecutive days, or
  • A recurring event that runs no longer than three days per week at the same location for as long as a year

Requirements for Event Organizers

Notify the Health Department 30 days before the event will begin.

  • Call or email the Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation at (212) 676-1600/50 or
  • Provide a list of participating food vendors, including their Temporary Food Service Establishment or restaurant or mobile food vending unit permit numbers.
  • If the event is held on privately owned property, provide the Department with a signed contract with the property owner.

Comply with other City event requirements.

Ensure proper waste management.

  • Provide enough containers for the storage and disposal of refuse, garbage and recyclable items during and after the event.
  • Arrange for daily storage and disposal of waste water.
  • Provide and maintain portable chemical toilets, hand washing sinks with hot and cold running water, and drying facilities for use by food workers and patrons.

Health Department Inspections

The Health Department inspects food operations at events to promote high food safety standards and protect the public. Failure to follow food safety requirements, including the requirement to get a permit, can result in a summons subject to fines of $200-$2,000, and other actions including immediate closure of the food stand.

Events Where a Health Department Permit is Not Required

You do not need a permit from the Health Department to serve food at:

  • Events held by a neighborhood, school, religious, fraternal or other affinity group; or a business or social function where the public is not invited.
  • Events conducted by a governmental agency or not-for profit organization to provide education about nutrition, safe food handling or food resource management.