Food Rescue Programs

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In the United States, we throw away nearly half of all the food we produce while 1 in 7 US Americans are food insecure. To put it into other words, we produce enough food to feed 2 entire US American populations, yet 50 million US Americans are food insecure. To get your head wrapped around the issue give my TEDX talk a watch.

The top priority to ending food waste isn’t simply donating the food, because if all the food was donated then it would just have to be thrown out elsewhere. We have way more food than we can eat. However donation is an important part of ending food insecurity for 50 million US Americans, as well as eliminating the massive environmental issues of food waste.

But when discussing donation by grocery stores, I hear a few of the same basic arguments or hesitations against it. The fact is that those arguments and hesitations are totally null. Grocery stores are protected from liability by The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This act was passed in 1996 and effectively waives these stores of any liability, should someone get sick from the food they donate. A University of Arkansas School of law study shows that not a single lawsuit has ever been filed against a grocery store, restaurant, or caterer that that has donated food to a nonprofit. Although a large percentage of stores site fear of liability as their reason for not donating food, they truly are protected and history shows that these fears are unnecessary.

Beyond that, thousands of food rescue programs exist across the United States and many of them will actually pick up this excess food at the store. In this article, I highlight some of the incredible programs across the United States that partner with grocery stores. It doesn’t end there though, many of these programs also do gleaning, which is the harvesting of excess food in the fields, as well a rescue food from restaurants, and from school kitchens and cafeterias. I’ve included a video for each of these food rescue programs and their website is linked in the title.

Please share this with any grocery store, restaurant, or caterer that you’d like to encourage to donate, as well as anyone out there who thinks that these places can’t donate their food. If you have any doubt that the solutions to food waste exist, I hope you’ll feel otherwise after watching these videos! Let’s end hunger and food waste!

Boulder Food Rescue

Want to start your own Food Rescue Program? Check out Boulder Food Rescue’s How-to Guide!

Produce Good

BK Rot

Food Not Bombs

Feeding America

Keep Austin Fed

Food Shift

The Gleaning Network

Donate Don’t Dump

Food Recovery Network

The Campus Kitchens Project

City Harvest


D.C. Central Kitchen

L.A. Kitchen

Second Helpings

Food Rescue

Waste Not OC

Table to Table

Daily Bread Ministries

Lovin’ Spoonfuls

More resources:

Do you know of a Food Rescue Program or are you one yourself? and the Food Rescue Alliance are creating an online directory and map of all the food rescue programs across the United States to help everyone, everywhere, to find food rescue groups in their area that can pick up extra food for others to eat. Enter all of the groups you know here.

For a deeper look into food waste, detailed information on the problem and solutions, how to get involved, food rescue programs, dumpster diving, and more go to Robin’s Food Waste Activism and Dumpster Diving Resource Guide and our Food Waste and Dumpster Diving Resource Page

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