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.

The following is an outline to assist student 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

  • The Organization can hire a licensed 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 $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.
    • Serving the food on site: no self- service is allowed. 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.
    • Sodexho (Beavers Catering) Concessions has the catering contracts with the OSU Athletic Department and is responsible for catering at Reser Stadium, Gill Coliseum, Valley Football Complex and Coleman Baseball Stadium.
  • Notes and other things to consider
    • 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 must be made through the office of Conferences and Special Events, LaSells Stewart Center (Memorial Union does not allow off site food vendors in its building for any purpose.)
  • 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.
    • 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.

Please note: due to a University wide Pepsi contract, no other brand of canned or bottled beverage is allowed during any food event, as of 6/11/2006.


Tips for a Successful Self-Produced Food Event


Investigate possible menu structures Provide 2 or 3 options. Have the committee research best fit options. A variety of items including meat, vegetarian, entrees, side dishes, appetizers, desserts, and beverages should be researched.

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


  • Buffet (# of lines and set-up)
  • Plate service (at the table)
  • Family style (at the table)
  • Self service (hors D' oeuvres and beverages only)

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 100 extra items 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.

Create a serving plan

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

Eat Free at OSU

  • Decide during the planning process if there is interest on offering leftover food to EatFree@OSU.  This decision will allow you to announce that free food is available for a limited amount of time after your event, preventing waste and improve food security on OSU's Corvallis campus.  It is based on a student-run Twitter account.  Learn more about the program.
  • Inform your caterer during the ordering process that you intend to offer any leftovers through EatFree@OSU.  Working together they will need to incorporate the following steps.
    • Generally leftovers are offered for 30 minutes after the end of the event.  Catering will need to delay their clearing process to allow for this.  There may be additional staffing charges for their time.
    • If you are using china, request that catering brings disposable plates.  There may be additional charges for these supplies.  You can also provide your own plates/containers for this step, if desired.
  • If leftovers are shelf stable (meaning that heating/cooling is not required) you may transfer items to platters that you provide, which would allow catering to clear before the 30 minute window of offering has concluded.  Please inform the building manager if you are leaving food items, and work with them in defining a clean-up plan.  As an alternative, these platters could be taken to a location that is accessible to students, such as the HSRC, which offers a longer window of opportunity for them to be consumed.
  • ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT:  Bring plates/containers/platters if this is part of your plan.  Be ready to tweet to @eatfreeOSU 15-20 minutes before the event ends.  In your tweet specify the location of the food (room number, outside in the hall, etc.), the type of food (or better yet, post a picture!) and the time that the food will be available.  See examples of what others post so that you can have your post crafted and ready to go.  Assign someone to take on this task, and to make the determination that there is enough left over, before posting.

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