California: Do Not Make an Uber Mistake with Homemade Food!
In February 2017, a bill was introduced in the California legislature to expand the types of homemade foods allowed to be sold in California, especially hot meals. The bill, AB 626, was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia and Joaquin Arambula and it is sponsored by a for-profit tech company called Josephine, operator of a web app that offers homemade food for sale. The bill passed out of the Assembly Health Committee but then stalled in the Appropriations Committee, where it will be brought up again for consideration sometime in 2018.
After much deliberation and meetings with stakeholders around the state, we’ve decided that we will only support further homemade food legislation if it ensures some form of community ownership of any web platforms intermediating the sale of homemade foods. We have seen too many problems in the "gig economy" to trust that legislation written by tech industry lobbyists will create opportunities in the food system without harmful consequences for workers and public safety. This is a crossroads moment for the food movement: Will homemade food be taken over by the likes of Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, or will it build on the success of community-driven institutions like farmers’ markets?
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Food News Blog posts:
"A New Homemade Food Act" (April 13, 2016): an intro about efforts made in 2016 to change the law
"Update on the New Homemade Food Bill" (May 2, 2016): a more in-depth discussion about ownership and control of our food system and an update on the legislative efforts
"Preliminary Feedback on New Homemade Food Sales Policy" (October 4, 2016): a report-back from a series of conversations in Southern California discussing nuts and bolts issues to be addressed in potential legislation
"Nuts and Bolts: More Ideas for Regulating Homemade Food in California" (October 6, 2016): a discussion of some more nuanced issues to be addressed in terms of food handling and preparation
"Stockton Mom Prosecuted for Selling Homemade Food" (November 10, 2016): reaction to the prosecution of Mariza Ruelas
"New Homemade Food Legislation - 2017" (February 16, 2017): update on a new bill, AB 626, and our law center's take on it.
"Homemade Food Bill (AB 626) Stalls in Assembly" (June 13, 2017): describes why giving platform users some small amount of equity in a tech company is insufficient for addressing concerns about exploitation in the "gig economy" and notes AB 626's new timeline.
But What's Legal Now? Looking for information on the current "Cottage Food Law" or Homemade Food Act that you can use to start a home-based food business in California now? Click here.
Please write to Christina@theselc.org if you have concise feedback to share via email or if you’d like to invite us to a more in-depth conversation with your organization or community group.