Open events, on or off campus, that involve the service of food by a university recognized organization must be in compliance with the regulations of Benton County Environmental Health Division, OSU and the State of Oregon.

You can hire a caterer for events held on or off campus. A caterer is a licensed food and service provider who contracts with an organization for a set amount of meals or items. Payment to the caterer is from the organization responsible for the event.

The caterer is responsible for:

  • Obtaining a Benton County Temporary Restaurant License for Open Events
  • Completing all food preparation before coming to campus.
  • Maintaining all of Benton County health and sanitation guidelines for handling, preparing, cooking, transporting, holding and serving food.
  • Having in effect a General Liability Insurance policy with a minimum limit of $2,000,000.00 per occurrence. An insurance company licensed to do business in the State of Oregon must issue the insurance. OSU, its officers, employees and agents shall be named as an additionally insured in this insurance policy.
  • Serving the food on site. The sponsoring organization can assist in serving if supervised by the caterer.
  • Maintaining the set-up and service area in a clean and orderly fashion.
  • The caterer assumes all responsibility of liability that arises from the service of the food.

A member of the sponsoring organization must be on-site at all times. A contractual agreement between the sponsoring organization and the caterer must be on file with the Event Chair/Coordinator. LaSells Stewart Center and CH2M Hill Alum Center have approved a list of caterers, which are allowed to serve in these facilities. Check with Facilities Managers for the current listings. The OSU Athletic Department has a contract with an on-site caterer, and they are responsible for all food service at Reser Stadium, Gill Coliseum, Valley Football Complex and Coleman Baseball Stadium.

Food trucks:  there are no specific rules about food trucks on campus at this time.   If you plan to have a contractual agreement with your vendor, remember to process your agreement through Procurement and Contract Services

  • ON-SITE Cooking: Only gas equipment is permissible to be used (no briquettes)
  • PIT Cooking: Approval from Corvallis Fire Department must be provided.

Service of alcohol requires a permit.  The caterer can complete this for you, or you can submit it on their behalf.  Submission is required at least three weeks in advance of your event.  Alcohol service is not allowed during business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.)

All groups preparing foods for public consumption are required to have at least one member with a Food Handlers Permit through Benton County Environmental Health. This person is responsible for training volunteers in safe food handling practices. At least one licensed food handler should be present at the event at all times.

Guidance for groups in planning and preparing a safe and successful food event.

  • Food products must be purchased at a licensed food purveyor.
  • All items that require production (mixing, slicing, chopping, cooking) must be prepared in an approved licensed kitchen facility.

Items that are purchased service ready,( i.e., deli trays, baked goods and fruit trays) must meet Benton County requirements during transport, holding and serving. Special attention should be given to maintaining temperature, sanitation and safety and to eliminating the possibility of cross contamination.

Women's Center, Native American Long House, Cesar Chavez Cultural Center, Asian Cultural Center and the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center can be licensed as a Temporary Restaurant by Benton County for small gatherings with limited menus sponsored or co-sponsored by the Centers. Contact Benton County Environmental Health to submit application for license. Events that have an outdoor cooking component may be required to have a Temporary Restaurant License. Contact Benton County Environmental Health to submit application for license. 

Consider utilizing the Global Community Kitchen located in the basement of the MU for food prep as this is a licensed kitchen with professional staff to help with ordering of ingredients and compliance to local regulations.

  • ON-SITE Cooking: Only gas equipment is permissible to be used (no briquettes)
  • PIT Cooking: Approval from Corvallis Fire Department must be provided

Many venues on campus have a specific list of approved food service providers. Make sure your plans fit within the guidelines of the venue.


  • Food vendor is defined as a licensed food provider that is allowed to sell food products on campus directly to the public.
  • The sponsoring university organization is responsible for ensuring that all university policies and procedures are followed.
  • A member of the sponsoring organization must be available at all times while the food vendor is present.
  • The food vendor is responsible for maintaining all of Benton County Environmental Health policies and must have a temporary restaurant license from Benton County.
  • The food vendor accepts all responsibility for any liability that arises from the service/selling of food.
  • Food Vendor must have in effect a General Liability Insurance policy with a minimum limit of $1,000,000.00 per occurrence. An insurance company licensed to do business in the State of Oregon must issue the insurance. OSU, its officers, employees and agents shall be named as an additionally insured in this insurance policy.
  • An organization should receive compensation for the sponsorship of such vendor, i.e., a flat fee or a % of actual sales.
  • Permission for use of any indoor university location must be requested through the Building Manager of the location. Outdoor requests should be made through the Campus Grounds Use Request form. Note that the Memorial Union does not allow off site food vendors in its building for any purpose.  Make sure to check with them regarding possibilities for using food vendors for MU controlled outdoor spaces.
  • Non-perishable items can be used for fund raising and publicity:
    • Individually wrapped baked goods and confections can be sold or given away in certain areas of the campus. Check with your desired location to confirm what is acceptable.
    • Soup lunches and similar activities can take place in a closed office environment.  Attendance should not be encouraged from outside of OSU.  Best practices for safe food handling should be followed from preparation and transportation, through holding and service.  Check with the OSU Food Drive chair should you have questions about these types of activities and what is allowable.
    • Canned or bottled beverages manufactured by Pepsi can be used. Any beverage that requires mixing must be obtained from a licensed food purveyor or produced/mixed in a licensable kitchen. Any condiment, i.e., cream and sugar, has to be served in individual servings and held at the correct temperature.

Due to a University wide Pepsi contract, no other brand of canned or bottled beverage is allowed during any food event.

Investigate possible menu structures. Provide two to three options. Have the committee research best fit options. A variety of items including meat and vegetarian entrees, side dishes, appetizers, desserts, and beverages should be researched.  Be considerate of common dietary restrictions such as allergies to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy, and be informed about which ones are in which dishes.  Consider asking your guests if they have any limitations so you know which are most important to communicate, and to make sure that you have options to accommodate the needs of all guests.

When choosing recipes keep these things in mind:

  • Available funding
  • How will the plate look
  • Is the food compatible and varied
  • Vegetarian menu should be equal to meat menu
  • How much time will the item take to produce
  • What equipment is needed
  • How is the item served

Service style:

  • Buffet (# of lines and set-up)
  • Boxed and pre-assembled meals
  • Plate service (at the table)
  • Family style (at the table)
  • Self service (hors D' oeuvres and beverages only)
  • Passed service (used for hors D' oeuvres and beverages)

Collaborate with the Committee Chairs to discuss set-up, decorations

  • Identify service ware:
    • Paper: be sure to purchase restaurant quality (heavy duty) paper products. Determine the size and shape of the plate based on the menu. If buffet serving, try to keep all items on one plate. Always purchase extra of everything.
    • China: identify local vendor. Identify the number of each items you will need. Arrange for delivery and pick up. Get cost estimate, communicate this to your Event Chair to ensure the funding is available. When receiving china always count it in before signing an invoice. This will ensure you have what you need and also protect you from overcharges.  Your caterer can manage a specialty china order for you.
    • Consider sustainability when making this selection. 

Create a serving plan

  • Number of needed volunteers
  • Training time
  • Set-up time and specifications
  • Dress code, if any
  • Serving time, start-end

Clean up

  • Assign a Kitchen Captain for during the production to maintain a clean and organized work space if not working with a caterer. Have someone available to wash dishes at all times.
  • Appoint an after event clean up chair
  • Create an after the event serving area and kitchen clean up plan:
    • Start time
    • Needed number of volunteers
    • Transportation
    • How to deal with any leftovers
    • List major kitchen equipment that will need to be cleaned
    • Projected end time