13.17 Preparation and Service of Food & Beverage on Campus


University of Northern Iowa facilities and grounds are often used by student or staff organizations, departments and other university-related groups for events and are also available to individuals, groups and organizations outside of the university community, subject to existing university policies governing use of space. The service of food and beverages is often an important part of these events.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure the health and safety of individuals consuming food and beverages on university property and compliance with Black Hawk County Health Department regulations, the Iowa Food Code, university contracts and the laws of the State of Iowa.

Policy Statement

All potentially hazardous food and beverages (those which must be temperature-controlled in order to remain safe to consume) must be prepared in and/or provided by a licensed commercial food service or caterer. Items prepared for personal consumption in university residence communities and other personal spaces are excluded from this policy.

Catering for UNI-Dome and McLeod Center events must be provided by UNI-Dome Concessions or by a licensed caterer approved by UNI-Dome Concessions. All other catering in university facilities or grounds must be provided by University Housing & Dining (UHD) or by a licensed caterer approved by UHD.  For additional information, a link to the approved vendor list, and information for becoming an approved vendor, see https://uhd.uni.edu/dining/catering.

Facilities on campus may adopt policies that further regulate food/beverage service in their venue. It is recommended therefore that, before planning an event, planners verify the specific food policies with the facility.

Potluck and carry-out exception

University departments (faculty/staff) within their own facilities and registered student organizations holding potluck or carry-out gatherings such as holiday gatherings, farewell gatherings, closed working meetings, etc. are not covered by this policy. Potluck or carry-out gatherings are defined as small member-only gatherings where homemade or take-out food such as pizza or simple sandwiches is provided by group members to be consumed by group members. Take-out food must be from a licensed and insured vendor. The food and advertising of the gathering is restricted to the small member-only group.

Events open or advertised to the general university or public are not potluck or carry-out gatherings and are subject to this policy.

Individuals may bring food into university facilities for their own personal consumption unless it is prohibited by the policy of the university facility.

Bake sale exceptions

 Non-hazardous foods (those not requiring temperature-control in order to be safe to consume) may be served/sold on campus if advance permission is obtained from either the Maucker Union or UHD. This exception is generally granted to allow bake sales and similar activities. Forms and instructions to request permission are available on the catering web page of the UHD website. This option is not available to non-university entities.

Assisted preparation exceptions

On occasions when student organizations or university departments are desirous of serving cultural or unique foods, permission may be granted that would allow the group to prepare its own food, with the assistance and direction of the UHD, in the commercial kitchen at Maucker Union or Commons Building. Forms and instructions to request permission are available on the catering web page of the UHD website. Requests for this exception will be subject to approval by the UHD Director of Dining and the terms and conditions developed by UHD.

Takeout exception

In university facilities or on university grounds where event food/beverage must otherwise be provided by UHD under this policy, catering takeout events funded by a university account or funded by a recognized student organization that meet all of the following criteria will NOT need specific approval or catering by UHD.

  • Food and beverage are for small gatherings at minimal cost.
  • An approved takeout vendor (<UNI Catering Approved Vendors - Google Sheets>) is used.
  • Food and beverage do not present a high food safety risk.
  • The primary audience is current students, staff and/or faculty.
  • The food and beverages do not conflict with any other contract or agreements.
  • No alcoholic beverages are included.

For more information regarding specific criteria and approved vendor list (https://uhd.uni.edu/dining/catering)

Food truck exception

On university grounds where event food/beverage must otherwise be provided by UHD under this policy and events funded by a university account or funded by a recognized student organization, event food may be provided by a food truck if all the following criteria are satisfied:

  • Event has successful approval of the Outdoor Event Request (<Reservations | Student Involvement & Event Services (uni.edu)>)
  • Food truck serves as a complement to a university event.
  • Food truck has current State of Iowa Food Establishment License and provides a copy to UHD.
  • Food truck provides insurance coverage in the type and amount prescribed by the Director of Risk Management.
  • Food truck shall be subject to pre-approval through UHD.  In reviewing a request, UHD will consider, among other factors, the safety of persons and property, completion of a Food Truck Agreement with the food truck vendor(s), state law, and health code. If the request is approved, UHD may place conditions and restrictions on any issued permit.  See also <Request for Food Truck Exception | Housing & Dining (uni.edu)>.
  • At the event, food truck must
    • Follow guidance from National Fire Protection Association related to food trucks.
    • Display the current State of Iowa Establishment License and their most current health inspection.
    • Be self sufficient and not connect to university utilities.
    • Serve out of the food truck.
    • Be prepared to pass campus fire inspection.
    • Be within a reasonable distance of bathroom facilities.
    • Be prepared to pass campus food inspection.
    • Use pre-approved parking location.

Purchase of goods or services for contracted items 

The university has agreements with a number of suppliers and purchase from those contracts is expected, and in some cases required if the contract is an exclusive contract, e.g. Coca-Cola (refer to the Coca-Cola FAQ for further clarification). A list of contracted suppliers and reference to contract requirements are available on the contracts page of the purchasing website. 

Related Policies

13.18 Alcohol and Drugs
13.07 Entertainment of University Guests
9.43 Reimbursable Expenses

Housing and Dining, approved March 9, 2022
University Council, approved September 19, 2022
President and President’s Cabinet, approved October 10, 2022 
[Last reviewed and/or updated 10/2022, 4/2016]