California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Food Scraps Management

Food Rescue and Food Banks

Organizations served by food rescue and food bank programs include community centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, senior programs, and childcare centers.

  • Food rescue means recovering healthy foods and making fast deliveries to those in need. This is the highest and best use for perishable food. The Fresno Metro Ministry Food Recovery project is one of these food rescue examples, taking excess perishable food to serve hungry people.
  • Food banks are organizations that collect food from a variety of sources, save it in a warehouse, then distribute it to hungry people through local human service agencies.  The California Association of Food Banks is one of the leading organizations in California.

How do I contact a food rescue or food bank organization in my area?

Food Recovery Hierarchy triangle

Food Donation

  • The US EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy has food donations to feed hungry people as a top priority to help reduce wasted food.
  • Typical food donors include manufacturers, supermarkets, wholesalers, farmers, and organized community food drives. Perishable and prepared foods are typically collected from restaurants, caterers, corporate dining rooms, and hotels for prompt distribution to hungry people in their communities.
  • Donated food includes edible food from events, products affected by labeling regulations or manufacturing glitches, expired coupons or code dated products.
  • Donating surplus food inventory to food rescue or food banks reduces warehouse storage and disposal costs.

How does the law protect businesses from liability?

  • The "Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act" (Public Law 104-210) makes it easier for businesses to donate to food rescue and food bank programs. It protects donors from liability when donating to nonprofit organizations and protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith cause harm to the needy recipient.

Tax benefits for donating food

Donors are advised to consult with their tax advisor in applying the appropriate deduction.

For information on tax credit in California, please see the California Legislative information, on Assembly Bill 152, Fuentes, regarding donations to food banks, voluntary contributions, and income tax credits. 

More information

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