The recognized charitable food service provider program is a voluntary program whose goal is to provide coordination of operations to organizations that serve homeless individuals. The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County and the Houston Health Department are collaborating on this program.
The Program Consists of Four Basic Steps
- Register the formal or informal food service organization. Registration includes contact information, proposed schedule, location and proposed food to be served.
- Get free, food handling training for the food service organization. The training also includes information from the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County about working with the homeless and referral information for additional services needed by the homeless.
- Get property owner consent. The only mandatory step is a requirement to obtain owner consent before using either public or private property for food service of more than five people. This is required for both registered and non-registered food service operations.
- Schedule your food service. Coordination of location and times of food service to maximize the distribution of food throughout the week.
- To schedule your food service, call 832-393-5100.
City of Houston Properties Approved for Charitable Food Service Events
Food Service Event Calendar
Food Handling Training
- The food handling training is free of charge to food service organizations.
- Classes are conducted the third Saturday of each month through virtual training from 12-2 p.m., beginning August 2020.
- To register, call 832-393-5100 or email CHS@houstontx.gov. Please provide your email address to receive an invitation.
Each approved charitable food service location on City of Houston property must have the following:
- Adequate parking for the personnel conducting the food service event. The minimum number of parking spaces shall be ten (10) dedicated spaces during charitable food service events.
- Adequate trash containment to contain all trash, refuse, and litter on the site of the food service event.
- Two (2) portable restrooms with handwashing stations available during food service events and available 24 hours per day, seven (7) days per week.
Each approved charitable food service provider on City of Houston property must have the following:
- Adequate personnel to conduct the food service event and restore the site at the conclusion of the food service event.
- Adequate trash receptacles, trash containment and removal measures to contain all trash, refuse, and litter on the site of the food service event and to properly dispose of all trash, refuse, litter and remove unused foods from the site at the conclusion of the food service event.
- Adherence to guidelines for food preparation, transport, serving, handling, storage and packaging in accordance with the FDA model food code/Houston Food Ordinance.
In the spring of 2012, the Houston City Council approved an ordinance establishing a voluntary program to coordinate outdoor food service operations for the homeless. The ordinance was the result of months of discussion among various city departments, homeless service agencies, law enforcement, homeless food service organizations and private property owners and managers.
The intent of the ordinance was three pronged:
- to improve the quality, quantity, and distribution of food provided outdoors;
- to expand the opportunities for the homeless to connect with service providers; and
- to reduce the disproportionate environmental impact of food service operations on public and private property.
Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County
The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to lead in the development and implementation of community strategies to prevent and end homelessness. In 1982, at the request of then Harris County Judge Jon Lindsay and Houston Mayor Kathryn Whitmire, the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County was founded by area homeless social services for an exploding number of people who became homeless as a result of local economic deterioration. In 1988, the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County incorporated as a 501(c)(3).
Page last reviewed: March 30, 2023