New Concession Stand Regulations Impact Local Schools' Sports

By  | 

The crackdown on concession stands goes into effect today, which means you might not be able to get pizza or hot dogs at your student athlete's games any more. The Ingham County Health Department has new food regulations for concession stands at schools in Ingham County. Every concession stand serving hot food in the county must now be licensed with the state. Hot food includes everything from pizza to coffee. In order to be licensed, a concession stand must have a number of sinks, heating and refrigeration materials. For many schools in Ingham County, those are costly renovations they just can't afford right now.

One of the last slices of pizza is sold at Holt High School's football field concession stand, and it's not just pizza that's out, hot dogs, popcorn, even coffee, no warm items can be sold at any school concession stand in Ingham County unless it gets licensed with the state. That's thanks to a new crack down from the Ingham County Health Department.

"At the football stadium and here in the building, we just need to get licensed. We just need an inspection," said Rick Schmidt, Holt Athletic Director.

But that's just for Holt's largest concession stands. It's the smaller stands at other fields that would need major renovations- renovations the district just can't afford to do.

"Baseball and softball, the junior high where we play lacrosse, anything that's outside of those three main areas, yes, it will affect the boosters," said Schmidt.

And it'll affect the boosters for those sports in a big way. No renovations means no hot food.

"Hot foods that we prepare which include hot dogs, and pizza, coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn represent probably almost forty percent of our revenue," said Matt Gray, Concession Coordinator, Holt Boosters.

revenue baseball and softball boosters are likely to lose. The Ingham County Health Department's Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Chris Klawuhn, told News 10 the county started considering new regulations when they realized exactly what people were selling at concession stands.

"We were hearing stories about groups that were cooking food at their house and bringing it in in crock pots, leaving food in the concession stand for two weeks, things like taco meat in a refrigerator for two weeks," said Chris Klawuhn, said Deputy Director, Bureau of Environmental Health, Ingham County Health Dept.

Things Klawuhn says require a license under Michigan's food law, but it's not just the license these stands will need.

There must be a "person in charge" at every stand who goes through a certified manager course through the state. All volunteers serving food must wear hair nets but stands choosing only to serve pre-packaged like candy and pop can continue to operate as normal. So, for now, candy has to be the snack of choice for Holt sports spectators and other people watching schools sports in Ingham County.

I did take a look at Michigan's Food Code and "a food concession" is listed food service establishment, which means it does require a license.
The health department spokesman told me that they will work with districts in the process of getting licensed or making renovations to meet code, and they'll consider giving them extensions. Barry-Eaton County already has similar regulations, as does Livingston County.