Providence, R.I.— Gov. Daniel McKee’s signature of the state budget yesterday afternoon included HB 7123, creating a major change in law few know about: Rhode Island is joining the rest of the country in permitting the sale of homemade or “cottage” foods.” Previously, only farmers were allowed to sell homemade foods. Under the new law, effective November 1, all Rhode Island residents can sell up to $50,000 of shelf-stable baked goods annually after obtaining a permit from the Department of Health.
The new law was included as a provision in the Governor’s FY 2023 state budget. The Institute for Justice (IJ), a national food freedom advocate that helped promote the inclusion of a cottage foods provision in the budget bill, praised the new law.
“We are thrilled Rhode Island has caught up with the rest of the country and will now allow everyone—not just farmers—to sell homemade foods,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Jennifer McDonald. “This law will provide a path to entrepreneurship for many Rhode Islanders, creating much-need small businesses and helping families put food on the table.”
Kara Donovan is one such Rhode Islander excited for this change. She started A Spoonful of Sugar, a small business in Portsmouth, selling gorgeous, decorated sugar cookies.
Her business benefited her family and community—until it was unceremoniously shut down by the Rhode Island Department of Health for violating the state’s restrictions on cottage foods, forcing her to use inconvenient and costly commercial kitchen space. Now, she is planning to restart her business at home and stronger than ever, selling cakes, cupcakes and sugar cookies.
“I feel like it’s a long time coming. I feel relieved,” Kara said, adding: “My kids are absolutely the most excited about our bill passing. They said, ‘you’ll be able to bake at home now? That’s the best news ever, mom!’”
To obtain a permit, budding Rhode Island cottage food producers must register with the Department of Health, ensure their kitchens comply with common structural and hygiene requirements, and complete an online food safety course.