New Restrictions on RSO Food Sales

Beginning this summer, RSOs will not be able to sell any home-prepared foods.

By Katherine Vega

A new RSO food policy that restricts the distribution of homemade goods will take effect in summer 2017, according to the Center for Leadership and Involvement.  

The new policy states that “to ensure the health and safety of all University community members, home-prepared foods of any kind are prohibited for sale and/or distribution outside of formal RSO events” and applies to all RSOs hosting fundraisers in Reynolds Club, Bartlett, the quad, and classroom buildings. The policy also applies to “informal” events, defined as fundraisers, informational tabling, or giveaway events. 

For formal events, such as lectures or shows, RSOs must book with a liscensed and insured caterer or food supplier.

The policy will affect fundraising strategies for some RSOs next year, as common fundraisers such as bake sales and bubble tea sales will no longer be allowed if the items are homemade. RSOs may still hold food fundraisers as long as the food is purchased through a vendor and meets all the new guidelines. 

Under the policy, all food must be purchased, provided through UChicago Dining, or donated by a vendor. All food must be fully prepared in advance, and no food that requires heating or cooling for safety reasons may be distributed. RSO representatives must wear gloves while distributing foods, unless each item is individually wrapped.  

Under the old policy, all food had to be approved by the Community Development and Operations Office. Baked goods had to be wrapped separately in plastic wrap or zip-top bags.  

“We’ve been looking to adopt a food policy that embraces basic food safety regulations for some time in order to keep the broader community safe. Many of our peer institutions have adopted similar policies and we used those documents to help craft our new policy,” wrote Sarah Cunningham, senior director of the Center for Leadership and Involvement and assistant dean of students in the University, in a statement to The Maroon.  

The policy change was announced in February in an e-mail from the CLI to RSOs, but had been in development since December 2016. Cunningham said that the announcement was made in advance of requesting Annual Allocations funding and budgeting for next school year so that RSOs can plan accordingly.