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LA County Approves At-Home Kitchen Business

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Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (the Board) unanimously approved the final reading of the County’s Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs) ordinance. This ordinance goes into effect on November 1, 2024.

It is the result of Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell’s motion that passed last year calling for a streamlined process for the over 50,000 home cooks and sidewalk vendors throughout the County to become permitted to cook safe and regulated food for the public.

“Sidewalk vendors and home cooks are part of the cultural and culinary fabric of our neighborhoods – many times being a primary source of affordable and quality food for residents while providing an opportunity for families to earn a steady income,” said Supervisor Mitchell.

“Our Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations ordinance allows LA County to align with the state in creating a pathway for unregulated chefs to become permitted and builds on our efforts to provide guardrails that protect residents and brick and mortar businesses while helping thousands of sidewalk vendors and home cooks benefit from our local economy.” 

In addition to the MEHKOs ordinance passing today, the Board approved Supervisors Mitchell and Hilda L. Solis’s motion to help remove financial barriers to applying for MEHKOs by allocating $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act recovery funds to cover the $597 initial application fee for 1000 eligible MEHKO permittees. The motion also calls for $600,000 invested into an extensive outreach and education campaign led by the County’s Department of Economic Opportunity.

“MEHKOs represent an important economic vehicle for entrepreneurial County residents – especially women, immigrants, and communities of color – to create new opportunities in the formal economy,” said Supervisor Solis. “MEHKOs will create new financial lifelines for many residents, including undocumented residents, who may otherwise face barriers operating their businesses.”

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health, whose department will be administering MEHKOs permits shared; “Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations will provide new opportunities for food entrepreneurs and aspiring chefs and create significant economic opportunities for Los Angeles County residents, including women and immigrants. I am grateful that Supervisor Mitchell and the Board of Supervisors have created a path that will provide a pathway for small business owners while ensuring public health and safety standards are maintained.”

Los Angeles County becomes the 15th jurisdiction in the state to authorize MEHKOs. According to a statewide survey by COOK Alliance, 84% of sidewalk vendors and home cooks in the informal economy are women, and 48% identify as Black, Latinx, or multi-racial. MEHKOs provide a feasible pathway for diverse populations, including first-generation immigrants, to be part of the formal economy and further legitimize their businesses. 

“This ordinance represents a pivotal moment for culinary entrepreneurs across Los Angeles County,” said Roya Bagheri, Executive Director of COOK Alliance. “MEHKOs break down barriers, allow home chefs and vendors to come out of the shadows, and empower marginalized communities to thrive in LA’s world-renowned food scene.

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