I want to have a bake sale on Barnard’s campus.  Is this permitted?

Generally speaking, bake sales are permitted on Barnard’s campus, provided that the sale is run by one of Barnard’s registered student organizations, and the student organization adheres to certain guidelines.

What are these guidelines for bake sales?

  1. The Department of Health in New York City does not permit the unlicensed or uninspected sale of items such as:  cheesecakes, cream filled pastries, eclairs, canned jam, jellies, marmalades, butters, custards, any other foods that contain uncooked or partially cooked eggs, or any other foods that require refrigeration in order for the food to remain safe for general consumption.

  2. You must follow guidelines for safe food preparation.

  3. You must list all ingredients for each food product prepared – clearly, either on a visible sign, or on the individual packaging.  Certain foods should also carry specific allergen or nut warnings.

  4. The labels of all food ingredients must be prepared in advance – ideally, as you prepare the food!  

  5. You also must include – either on a sign visible to your customers or on the individual packaging – the following disclaimer:  “This food is made in a home kitchen and is not inspected by the New York City Department of Health.”  

  6. Only events that are fundraisers for recognized student organizations, or recognized charities affiliated with student organizations are permitted to host bake sales.  Political campaigns or other partisan political activity organizations are not permitted to sell food, or otherwise fundraise on the Barnard College campus.

  7. No individual student, or group of students may sell food products on campus for personal profit.

  8. Under the thought that communal eating requires communal care, we also strongly recommend that you have the items individually wrapped at the original point of preparation (e.g., the kitchen).  Some of your classmates may have food intolerances and allergies that would be aggravated by cross contamination, so we ask that you be mindful of those classmates, and separate before serving.

  9. If you do not individually wrap the food, we ask that you serve the bake sale items without having any bare hand contact with the food.  You’ll want to wear gloves, use tongs or other serving utensils to serve the food.  If you’re using serving utensils, you’ll want to have a separate set of utensils for each type of food item.  We also ask that you keep physically separate items containing nuts, from items that do not contain nuts.

Also, we’re assuming that you’ve gone through the appropriate channels, and reserved the necessary table space for your bake sale.  The above rules are, of course, in addition to all the College policies and procedures that might otherwise be applicable for your event.  

That seems like a long list of food that isn’t allowed to be sold.  What can we sell at our bake sale?

Bars, brownies, cookies, cakes (of a non-cheesecake variety), breads, doughnuts (of a non-cream filled variety), and fruit pies are all acceptable to sell.  If it’s acceptable to eat at room temperature, generally speaking, you can sell it at the bake sale.  

You mentioned “guidelines for safe food preparation.”  What are those?  

  1. All persons handling food should completely wash their hands before touching any food  – that is, rub your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds before rising thoroughly.

  2. Use thermometers to check oven and food temperatures to ensure adequate and proper cooking temperatures.  

  3. Any loose hair should be pulled back from the face before any food preparation and/or handling begins.

  4. Please do not prepare or handle any food if you are sick with diarrhea or vomiting, have any infected wounds or sores on your hands/arms, or you think that you may have any illness that could be spread by handling food.

  5. Ingredients should be fresh, and properly stored before usage.  Check the “sell by” or “expiration date”, and look for signs that the ingredients are no longer fresh:  mold, changes in texture or color.  

  6. Do not attempt to cook food in equipment that might be insufficient for the task.  You’ll want to make sure that all the equipment is clean and sanitary before using the equipment to prepare the food.

To sum it up, we want to make sure your hands are clean, and the food is fresh before you start preparing food for yourself, and other people!


What about pot luck dinners?  Are student organizations allowed to host those activities?

Yes, recognized student organizations are permitted to host potluck dinners, though we do have a few more caveats though with pot luck dinners.  Specifically:

  1. If you’re purchasing food from a nearby restaurant, we ask that you serve the food within two hours of its preparation (don’t buy food in the morning only to serve it in the evening).

  2. You cannot serve any food that requires refrigeration (same rules as the bake sale).

  3. Follow the same guidelines for safe food handling and preparation (same guidelines as the bake sale).

  4. For each dish that’s being served, we ask that you have a set of serving utensils (e.g., tongs, forks and spoons, spatulas).  Do not share utensils across several dishes, and again, be mindful during the event not to inadvertently cross-contaminate food.

  5. If you’re preparing meat dishes, please make sure to cook the food thoroughly – use a meat thermometer, if necessary.

  6. Similar to the bake sale rules, you must include an ingredient list for each food item being served that is visibly displayed, with the allergen warnings and nut warnings, as needed.


You mentioned allergen warnings and nut warnings.  Isn’t that a little much?

It may be an added step, but for the students who have intolerances and sensitivities, or students with dietary restrictions, the signs go a long way to ensure that they can make the best educated decision about what food is safe for them to consume.


OK, so what should go onto the allergen warnings and nut warnings?

For the allergen warnings, we ask that you display the warnings for food products containing the eight (8) major allergens:  milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat (which includes gluten), and soy.


For the nut warnings, we ask that you display the warnings for food products containing the following:

  • Any food containing nuts OR nut derivatives (which includes almond extract, peanut oil, or other nut oils)

  • Any food that has been prepared with chocolate or other prepared foods that contains a nut warning on it.  (example:   if you’re dipping foods in chocolate, and the chocolate wrapper reads:  “Made in a facility that has tree nuts” – you’ll want to include the nut warning on the sign/label).

  • Any food that has been prepared in the same kitchen at the same time that foods with nuts were prepared (example:   if one batch of chocolate chip cookies contains nuts, and the other does not – a nut warning should be used).

Even trace amounts of tree nuts and peanuts can spark an allergic reaction in some individuals, so we’re asking you do your part to educate the consumer.


You mentioned having labels on the food items, or visible signage.  Can you give me an example of what you’re looking for?


This food was made in a home kitchen, and is not inspected by the New York City Department of Health of any other local agency.

Ingredients:  wheat flour, sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, eggs, chocolate (contains cocoa solids, cane sugar, lecithin, vanilla), pure vanilla extract, salt.

ALLERGEN WARNING:  this product contains foods that may cause an allergic reaction.  This product contains wheat, milk products, eggs, and was made in the same facility where products containing nuts were made, or where nuts were handled.