As communities work to address issues of homelessness, many individuals or groups seek to help out on a personal level. Some wish to offer food to those experiencing homelessness, prompting questions of safety and food service permitting. Clark County Public Health (CCPH) is charged with protecting the health of all residents of and visitors to Clark County. Use the information below as guidance for groups or individuals who wish to provide food to people experiencing homelessness.
Public health considerations
- Homelessness is a public health issue needing comprehensive and compassionate solutions;
- Public health issues related to homelessness include: food safety, solid waste, proper human waste disposal, proper hazardous material disposal, safe drinking water, adverse childhood experiences, proper nutrition, infectious diseases prevention, and others;
- Individuals experiencing homelessness are entitled to food prepared safely in a sanitary environment;
- Individuals experiencing homelessness often have preexisting medical conditions and/or lack the ability to maintain proper health habits including getting adequate sleep and nutrition, and may be more susceptible to a foodborne illness.
Options for individuals or groups to receive, store, prepare or offer food
Be a recognized 501c3 organization that receives, stores, prepares or serves food in accordance with Donated Food Distribution Organization (DFDO) guidelines AND submits an annual notification to the Clark County Public Health Department using this Annual Notification form.
- Volunteer with or donate food to existing organizations.
- Serve only foods that are exempt from permit and submit the required Exempt Exempt From Permit Application to CCPH. Forms can be submitted by email, in person at Center for Community Health, or by mail at PO Box 9825 Vancouver, WA 98666. Please note that the items of the exempt from permit list are subject to change. Check annually to ensure your food items still fall into this category.