Members of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District board acknowledged the short notice given to Market at the Square vendors regarding the district’s new policy prohibiting home baked items sold for profit. However, board members say there is nothing they can do to change the state code the district is now complying with after ten years of nonenforcement.
CUPHD administrator Julie Pryde said the notice, which came just weeks before the start of the market, could have been earlier but was lost in the shuffle due to more pressing concerns with norovirus and shigella. She also blamed previous administrations for not implementing the policy change sooner.
When pressed by local baker Jim Reedy, CUPHD environmental health director Jim Roberts admitted he decided to implement the policy in February but didn’t send the notice until mid April. Reedy joined vendors Stewart Pequignot and Paula Erwin, and local residents E. Wayne Johnson and Justine Schoeplein in voicing displeasure at the short notice given the market’s home bakers. Johnson also noted the lack of scientific basis for regulating baked goods.
Reedy, Pequignot, and Erwin all will be renting local restaurant and church kitchens to comply with the new policy for the 2009 farmers market. However, only Reedy’s arrangements will be in place for the market’s May 2 start this Saturday.
Roberts said that the former home baking vendors likely will not be required to obtain food handling licenses, but they will be required to purchase temporary event permits at $75. Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing requested the board to consider reducing this fee. Board secretary C. Pius Weibel moved that this be an item for the CUPHD board’s next meeting.