Eau Claire (WQOW)- With Thanksgiving around the corner, this is the time of year many of us try to give back, but before you serve up help on a dinner plate the Eau Claire City-County Health Department may put it on the back burner.
After a homeless shelter closed near her home earlier this year, one Kenosha woman began using the money out of her own pocket to buy and prepare meals for those in need. She had served about 100 meals every day, but now Kenosha health officials told the woman it's unsafe and she needs a commercial kitchen in order to continue serving meals.
On Monday News 18 spoke with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department about what someone can and can't do. Health officials said by state law, those serving the general public are required to have a license with the health department. But there are some exemptions, one of which applies to non-profit or religious organizations helping those in need.
"We work with them as a consultant because we want the same thing they want, which is safe food for folks that may not have access to healthcare if they were to get sick," said KT Gallagher with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. "Where the risk lies is, when you're doing food in an unlicensed kitchen, like a home-based kitchen and you don't have a license with us, so we've never talked through the process with you, we've never talked through how you can keep people safe."
The health department said there are a lot of risks that come with preparing food for a large number of people, especially when it comes to safely cooling down food. Health officials urge anyone considering pursuing an exemption or just want more information to contact the health department.