Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 7:11pm
post #1 of

Hellow fellow New Jersians.

After reading all of the posts in two different threads started by Kelleym of Texas (and that includes the links, too), stephaniescakenj and I have decided to try to do something right here in The Garden State to try to have the laws that govern home bakers (currently outlawing/forbidding them) changed.

We need as much help as we can get on this. Please, if it's important to you and you think you would benefit from this, join us in this effort. The more people we have behind us, the better off we are. NJ is a state sort of known for it's "What's in it for me" attitude and we have to prove that this new law would not only be beneficial for the people, but would help the state, too. So to that end we have come up with a letter sample to send to our representatives.

Firstly, you need to find out who your reps are and that information can be obtained here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp.

Next, here's the letter. Feel free to make some changes to suit your heart-felt feelings. We very much based this upon Jodie's (of MD) letter, but tailored it to fit us in NJ. (Thank you so much Jodie! and you, too, Kelleym!):

To the Honorable (insert name):

I hope you will consider sponsoring a bill that is very important to me as a cake decorator. This bill would legalize residential kitchens and allow for the fulfillment of supplier and consumer need, regulation of home bakers, additional revenue for the state and commercial parity with our neighboring states. Many people do not realize that New Jersey currently does not allow for legal sales of home-baked goods. Within Chapter 24: Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines (NJAC 8:24) there are allowances for preparing not potentially hazardous food for sale at a religious or charitable organization's bake sale, as well for foods being prepared and served if the home is a bed and breakfast guesthouse or homestay, or if the private home is a family child-care home, but it does not extend to selling such items to any other consumer. However, legalizing residential kitchens for non-potentially hazardous foods (i.e. foods that will not support the growth of pathogenic organisms and do not require temperature controls, such as bakery products - cakes, cookies, brownies, breads, rolls; jams and jellies; acidified foods; and candy or ready-to-eat foods) will be beneficial for the state of New Jersey in the following ways:

1. Fulfillment of supplier and consumer need:
For many bakers, opening a legal bakery is a catch-22 situation: they want to know if they will have a customer base before investing a great amount of money and spending resources to open a legal kitchen, but they must open a commercial kitchen to legally sell their products. In turn, many home bakers turn to illegally selling products from their residential kitchen. For these home bakers, the opportunity to prove to their clientele that they are legally recognized by the state would be a real boon to their business. They would be able to show their clients certificates from the Department of Health showing that they've passed inspection and could even print up business cards, register with the state and truly 'test the waters' as a small bakery business owner to see if their products are well-received and if this is what they truly want to do, without going into debt. Given that home bakers average a small quantity of goods each week (as they just don't have the equipment, space, or the staff), and many are already operating 'under the radar', the impact on commercial bakeries should be minimal.

Similarly, many consumers have a desire to purchase home-made baked goods from a local neighbor or friend. However, if they've never been to the baker's home before they might be leery about approaching someone that has no certification, permit or license. Being able to see these items would give the potential customer greater peace of mind, and in the unlikely event that a food-borne illness was to result (it is definitely not unheard of even in inspected, licensed commercial food establishments), the customer would have some recourse and the health inspector would have a much easier time being able to track down the cause/origin of the problem. This would alleviate the problem of trying to track down an illegal baker, and gives greater possibility of preventing this scenario in the first place.

2. Increased regulation:
Commercial kitchens undergo strict food regulations, permitting, and licensing by the state. In contrast, people who sell out of their home kitchens undergo no such regulations or restrictions. By legalizing residential kitchens, the bakers will have to take the same food handling courses to earn their certificates and be subject to many of the same rules and regulations for sanitary conditions and procedures within their residential kitchens that are prescribed for retail food establishments. Such regulations could also include a no pets in the home clause, common in many other states' rules for residential kitchen home food manufacturing, as well as requirements for labeling advising that the product was manufactured/baked in a licensed home kitchen, making it mandatory to keep products and ingredients used for saleable goods separate from home use items, etc.

3. Increased revenue with negligible cost
Legalized residential kitchens will allow bakers a legal income and would follow the current income tax laws regarding minimum and maximum revenue taxation, which would in turn bring more revenue to the state of New Jersey. Furthermore, the home baker would be responsible for paying the fees associated with opening a small food establishment business, which includes but is not limited to: application fee, permit fee, trade name fee, home inspection fee, etc. The revenue generated from these would help cover the costs to the state for the additional workload to its employees. Also, the home baker would most likely need to purchase supplies, equipment, and ingredients; all of which would help stimulate the economy (as would the sale of the baked goods, too) resulting in more revenue for New Jersey.

4. Parity with neighboring states
Some of New Jerseys neighboring states in the northeast (such as, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, just to name a few) allow for the sale of food from home kitchens. Sharing a similar law will enable New Jersey to remain commercially competitive with other states in this geographical area.

Some other states have cake decorators in the same situation as my peers and myself and they, too, are trying to have their states laws changed as well. One such state, Texas, recently had their bill, HB 3282, heard before Committee and is now pending. Many of their opponents mentioned the dangers which bringing this bill into law would cause, but the whole reason for wanting to become legal is to prevent dangerous situations and to protect both the baker and the consumer, as the baker would have the responsibility of taking food handling courses and being required to have that certificate in order to register and the consumer would benefit from the knowledge the baker obtained. Its far more dangerous now having so many illegal, unlicensed home bakers who might have taken safety or food handling courses and are unregistered should something actually occur.

Another concern came from larger commercial bakeries and restaurants that are already established. They questioned the unfair advantage that the home bakers would have regarding no overhead, lower pricing and possible unsanitary kitchen practices. These worries are actually baseless since the home baker would have restrictions that the commercial baker does not; such as only preparing potentially non-hazardous foods, and not having a staff to help or commercial equipment to increase productivity. The home baker, most likely would not reap the benefits of shopping for ingredients in bulk so their costs on that level would probably actually be a bit higher and would be reflected in their pricing. Also, the standards of cleanliness would have to be kept the same since both the home baker and commercial baker would have their kitchens inspected by the same agency and need to be certified by the same state recognized food handler courses (though chances are the home baker, not having any employees or staff, would probably set him/herself to a higher standard since its not just a job as its the bakers home and the customers would know where the baker lives). Furthermore, of course, both the home baker and commercial baker would be required to carry liability insurance, as well.

Please consider seriously what I have put before you here. This potential law really means a great deal to me and my cake decorating friends and, I believe, would benefit many, not only home bakers, but the whole state of New Jersey. Thank you.

Sincerely,


___________________
under name include:
Address
Phone No.
E-Mail Address
Web Site (if applicable)


You can even include a couple of pictures of your work if you feel inclined. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM either Stephanie or myself. We are currently in the process of trying to obtain some information from the states that have cottage food laws on the books and also will be setting up a petition soon (we'll update this thread as these things come to fruition).

124 replies
Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 9:18pm
post #2 of

bump (I promise I will not do this too often)

stephaniescakenj Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 12:40am
post #3 of

Pretty please icon_lol.gif It's a long shot but we'lll never know if it will work unless we try !

Also, to those of you who do not know about our local cake decorators club, please join us! Here's the link. We have alot of fun!

http://www.meetup.com/njcakedecoratorsclub/

SugarLover2 Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 11:26am
post #4 of

Yay!! So hope this works out. It's just not fair that we who do this because we love it, but still have to work full time (or stay home with our babies) are not able to sell our cakes (legally) without putting out an arm and a leg in kitchen fees. Trust me, I'd love to say I own a shop and put all the work into opening one up, but for me, that's not an option.

SugarplumStudio Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 11:32am
post #5 of

Thanks, Grace. I'm in.

SHogg Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 12:18pm
post #6 of

Fantastic Idea! I'm going to post this link on my site so more NJ decorators can participate. The more letters we can send the more they will take it seriously. Thanks so much for starting this Grace!

MichelleG Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 12:29pm
post #7 of

Thank you for getting in touch with me, I'm in!!!!!!! thumbs_up.gif

aoliveira Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 1:34pm
post #8 of

I think this is a great idea. I'd love to be able to sell my cakes as well.

wendy1273 Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 1:45pm
post #9 of

Wow!!
I was thinking about doing something like this last week but I didn't know how to star and now I get this message from you. God is good!!!

When Oprah gave the letter to her listeners a while back to send to our senators about changing the laws about pedophile I sent one with my signature and a few months after I got a response from the senator office letting me know that the law was passed and approved, I cried of excitement because I never thought that we can make that kind of difference, but we did!

Thank you and for sure I'm in.

God be with us

Wendy

mep2315 Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 2:52pm

Grace,

I have been trying to figure out how to do this for almost a year now. Count me in! The current laws are so limited it is crazy.

Maria

PattyT Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 10:54am

Thank you for this - I'm IN!!

simplye Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 11:48am

I sent my letters out this morning!

frostingfairy Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 1:49pm

Hooray for Jersey girls!! I'm in, too.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 2:23pm

Thanks so much everybody. If any of you have followed the saga of what TX has gone through, you'll know that this isn't going to be a breeze and might be a long (possibly two years or more!) uphill battle, but I really think we can make a difference here.

I have my letters and I'm off to the PO. Please don't for get to tell your NJ neighbors, friends and families about this and ask them if they'd be willing to send off some quick letters, e-mails and faxes, too!

Thanks!

MrsLev557 Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:39pm

I am on it...I will send out a letter also!!!

Go Jersey! icon_lol.gif

nissi01 Posted 31 Mar 2009 , 5:51pm

Wow, Ive been thinking about a way to become legal all week. My DH younger brother was killed last week. This was a 27 yr old guy who was writing and recording music and had money saved in the bank to buy his 1st home. He was working on making his drams come true. This tragedy has made me realize that I have to live for today and if I want something, I have to go out and get it. Ive only been decorating cakes for about a year and a half and I love it, sure, I have a lot to learn still, but this is something that I want to do. Its my DREAM. So guys, COUNT ME IN TOO!!!!

Thank you soo much for sending me the link to the post, and lets do this.
thumbs_up.gif

Denise

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 31 Mar 2009 , 6:06pm

Oh, Denise........I'm so, so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. That is so tragic! Please accept my sincerest condolences to you, your husband, and the family.

I understand how something like this makes you think about life and 'the big picture', but make sure you're ready to this first. We can always use support to help get this law passed and hopefully reap its benefits, but nobody would blame you if you couldn't do it at this moment. It's entirely up to you and I thank you for responding to my PM/e-mail.

If you feel up to it and would like to write some letters to your legislative reps, we appreciate it. If not, and you'd still like to help, maybe you can ask a friend or neighbor to it on your behalf.

Take care and God bless!

nissi01 Posted 31 Mar 2009 , 6:57pm

Hi Sugar Plum Fairy

Thank you so much for your kind words. I am willing to do a couple of letters and spread the word around to help at least in getting the law passed. Who knows maybe by the time the law is passed I will be ready to make that step to set up shop!!!!!!! icon_lol.gif

Denise

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 31 Mar 2009 , 7:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by nissi01

Hi Sugar Plum Fairy

Thank you so much for your kind words. I am willing to do a couple of letters and spread the word around to help at least in getting the law passed. Who knows maybe by the time the law is passed I will be ready to make that step to set up shop!!!!!!! icon_lol.gif

Denise




((((BIG HUG))))

ValMommytoDanny Posted 1 Apr 2009 , 4:28am

i'M IN.....

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 2 Apr 2009 , 5:51pm

Hi, everybody. Hope you're doing well today and that those letters are getting to our Reps. Has anyone heard back from anybody yet? It's probably too soon, but just though I'd ask.

Well we want to keep letters going to the offices of these officials and keep our cause in the forfront of their minds, so the more letters we send, the better. Hopefully, you're all asking others to write also, so with that in mind...........

Okay, for all the non-bakers who support our cause, here's a sample letter for them to follow:

To the Honorable ___________________________:

I have decided to write to you today to let you know I whole-heartedly want to support my _______________(insert relationship and/or name here) in her/his endeavor to open a small home-based bakery. I believe ____________ has what it takes to do well, except for the support from the state of New Jersey.

It wasnt until __________________ informed me that New Jersey made it illegal for a home-baker to sell his/her baked goods to the public that I knew about this law. I would love to see a new law instated to change this and allow home bakers the opportunity to sell their creations. Of course Im concerned about public safety issues and food-borne illnesses and such, but even restaurants that are inspected and licensed sometimes have their share of problems. You hear on the news and read in the papers stories about restaurants being closed for not keeping up with codes and sanitary standards, but I believe someone who is baking from their own home would not wind up in this type of a situation. Knowing that someone is judging you, your desserts and your kitchen, which reflects the heart of your home, will definitely keep one on their toes!

I can also see other advantages to this: more jobs in this current recessed economic climate, incubator kitchen situations for the home baker (if (s)he can start the business out of the home kitchen and expand it enough (while making a profit from it) then (s)he might actually open up a commercial bakery), stimulation of the states economy would also come from the baker purchasing supplies, equipment, insurance, taking food handling classes, and other business-related necessities. I remember mentioning the rental of a commercial kitchen to my ________________(insert relation cousin, friend, sibling, etc.) only to be told that to find one is a job in itself. When looking on Craigs List and some other sites, there are numerous requests from those looking for kitchens and rarely any ads to rent a kitchen. This situation is extremely frustrating and problematic for those bakers that want to be above-board and legal.

Finally, if you were to consider writing a bill for this, it would be a shame to have gone through all of this and still have some bakers not reap any reward due to zoning issues. Maybe that could be addressed as well a built-in variance or waiver since this type of a business would not create much traffic only occasional meetings before hand (tastings, deposits are sometimes done beforehand and usually only in the case of wedding cakes), and of course, delivery or pick-up of the baked goods.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and consider this issue.

Sincerely,

_______________

freakgirl Posted 3 Apr 2009 , 11:35pm

I contacted my local reps too -- thanks for the heads-up!

panchanewjersey Posted 3 Apr 2009 , 11:41pm

Gosh, that's a darn good letter, too bad we can't do something like that in California. I wish you guys the best Jersey girls. I was born there in Camden but raised in Cali, my heart still belongs to Jersey. Best of luck!

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 12:05am
Quote:
Originally Posted by panchanewjersey

Gosh, that's a darn good letter, too bad we can't do something like that in California. I wish you guys the best Jersey girls. I was born there in Camden but raised in Cali, my heart still belongs to Jersey. Best of luck!




Thanks so much for your kind wishes. Just one question: why aren't you able to do something like this in California? I know their laws are pretty stringent; is that why?

pattycakesnj Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 12:35am

I am in too as soon as I can figure out how to cut and paste that great letter.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 2:47am
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesncookies

I am in too as soon as I can figure out how to cut and paste that great letter.




Here, you might be able to cut and paste from here: http://www.meetup.com/njcakedecoratorsclub/messages/boards/thread/6577157

The only thing I forgot in that one is for the closing, under your signature, please add your address, telephone number, e-mail address and website, if applicable.

Thanks so much for joining in and helping out. Also, for non-bakers who'd like to support our cause, I've come up with another letter.


Date

To the Honorable ___________________________:

I have decided to write to you today to let you know I whole-heartedly want to support my _______________(insert relationship and/or name here) in her/his endeavor to open a small home-based bakery. I believe ____________ has what it takes to do well, except for the support from the state of New Jersey.

It wasnt until __________________ informed me that New Jersey made it illegal for a home-baker to sell his/her baked goods to the public that I knew about this law. I would love to see a new law instated to change this and allow home bakers the opportunity to sell their creations. Of course Im concerned about public safety issues and food-borne illnesses and such, but even restaurants that are inspected and licensed sometimes have their share of problems. You hear on the news and read in the papers stories about restaurants being closed for not keeping up with codes and sanitary standards, but I believe someone who is baking from their own home would not wind up in this type of a situation. Knowing that someone is judging you, your desserts and your kitchen, which reflects the heart of your home, will definitely keep one on their toes!

I can also see other advantages to this: more jobs in this current recessed economic climate, incubator kitchen situations for the home baker (if (s)he can start the business out of the home kitchen and expand it enough (while making a profit from it) then (s)he might actually open up a commercial bakery), stimulation of the states economy would also come from the baker purchasing supplies, equipment, insurance, taking food handling classes, and other business-related necessities. I remember mentioning the rental of a commercial kitchen to my ________________(insert relation cousin, friend, sibling, etc.) only to be told that to find one is a job in itself. When looking on Craigs List and some other sites, there are numerous requests from those looking for kitchens and rarely any ads to rent a kitchen. This situation is extremely frustrating and problematic for those bakers that want to be above-board and legal.

Finally, if you were to consider writing a bill for this, it would be a shame to have gone through all of this and still have some bakers not reap any reward due to zoning issues. Maybe that could be addressed as well a built-in variance or waiver since this type of a business would not create much traffic only occasional meetings before hand (tastings, deposits are sometimes done beforehand and usually only in the case of wedding cakes), and of course, delivery or pick-up of the baked goods.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and consider this issue.

Sincerely,


Name
Address
Phone
E-mail
Web Site (if applicable)

panchanewjersey Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 3:38am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugar_Plum_Fairy

Quote:
Originally Posted by panchanewjersey

Gosh, that's a darn good letter, too bad we can't do something like that in California. I wish you guys the best Jersey girls. I was born there in Camden but raised in Cali, my heart still belongs to Jersey. Best of luck!



Thanks so much for your kind wishes. Just one question: why aren't you able to do something like this in California? I know their laws are pretty stringent; is that why?




Yeah, stringent! It's like asking Hitler to free the Jews, if you know what I mean.

pattycakesnj Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 12:50pm

I have some specific ideas on what to do besides a petition and letter writing, which is a great start. as soon as I figure out how to pm sugarplumfairy, I will send her my suggestions. (I have had some experience in getting new laws passed in NJ, not easy though)

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 4 Apr 2009 , 9:54pm

Patty, thanks again.

I just want everyone to know, in case there was some confusion, that this letterwriting campaign and the eventual petition are only the first steps in a very long, uphill battle.

The letterwriting (which includes faxing, e-mailing, and calling) is for a twofold reason: one - we want to make our representatives aware that there is a want and need for change; and, two - we're hoping at least one person (whether it's a senator, assemblyman or assemblywoman) will respond to a letter, e-mail or call to show interest also and, hopefully (our real goal) offer to auther a bill for us to bring to Committee.

If someone should get in touch with you, give them your heartfelt reasons for wanting a law allowing residential bakeries. Also, please, don't forget to let us all know about it!!

Once we have at least one response we'll start the petition going in order to send to the rep willing to author the bill and show just how much support there is behind such a bill.

Don't forget, keep writing those letters. Last week I wrote to my district's reps and tomorrow I am planning on e-mailing as many as I can all over NJ (hopefully all of them). Monday I am planning on calling my senator and two assemblypeople to see if they received my letters, as well as sending e-mails to them also.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 9 Apr 2009 , 1:49am

Okay, here's an update:

I just finished e-mailing each and every rep. (except for the three in my district to which I instead mailed to each of them a three page letter and 11 pages of enclosures). I then called them on Monday, though I didn't reach the Senator (busy signal). I still owe his office a phone call.

I did get a letter back from one of my reps in today's mail.
The news is not positive. Here's what the letter states:

Dear Ms. DeStefano,

I have had my staff research your proposal to amend NJAC 8:24 to include legalizing residential kitchens. This so-called "cottage industry" is not done by Statute but is regulated by Administrative Code Title 8 of the Department of Health; which has the force of the law. The issue has come before the department in prior years and the officials have determined that allowing this industry would not be feasible; not only for health reasons but it would be untenable for them to send inspectors into private residences all over the state.

Regrettably, I have been convinced by the professionals that changing this regulation would not be in the best interest of the citizens of the state.

Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Peter J. Biondi



So I guess it's safe to say, Mr. Biondi is not for changing any laws. This means I'll be writing more letters as well, too, outside of my district (in addition to the e-mails). I'm sure there have to be some Reps that will see the benefits of a Cottage Food law 'on the books'.

Has anyone else received any sort of response from anyone? Negative or positive?

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