California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Reuse Organization Profiles

Food Finders


Food Finders is a nonprofit food rescue program that is dedicated to feeding those in need. Volunteers collect and distribute food, along with other essential items, to missions, shelters, treatment centers, senior centers, children's homes, etc. in both Los Angeles and Orange counties at no cost to the recipients. Food Finders provides approximately 50,000 meals a day through its services.

Missions and Vision Statements

  • Mission: Food Finders is a community-based food rescue organization that serves as a conduit for food, education, and awareness between donors, volunteers, agencies and people in need.
  • Vision: To eliminate hunger and food waste, while improving nutrition in the communities we serve. We strive to serve them with integrity, resourcefulness, urgency and respect. We are grateful for all those involved in reducing food waste and for the miracles we see every day.


Food Finders was founded in 1989 by Arlene Mercer, who was concerned about the amount of food being thrown away by local food merchants and grocers rather than being donated . Inspired to end the waste, she began forming liaisons with local vendors and seeking shelters that could use good, wholesome food to feed needy and impoverished families, children, and the elderly.


Inside thrift storeMost of the food donated is picked up by staff drivers and volunteers and then delivered to partner agencies, the majority of which are in close proximity to the donor location. Nothing is warehoused.

Food Finders operates with more than 200 established delivery routes. Diana Lara, VP of Operations, is responsible for coordination of these routes and volunteers that happen 7 days a week.

Inside of thrift store

Food Finders also provides referral services to direct people to resources that provide food, shelter, etc.

Food Finders staff is always willing to speak to groups, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, churches, etc., in an effort to educate people about their services. Volunteers are the key to its operation and new applications are always accepted via mail or email.

Materials Accepted Source of Materials Collection Services Geographic
Service Area
Any and all food that is still edible and not spoiled or expired. Any food donated in good conscience is covered by the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which was signed into law October 1, 1996. Restaurants, bakeries, caterers, hotels, grocery stores, produce marts, and farmers markets are all sources of wholesome food that is accepted. Call for an appointment. Call for details.

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Last updated: May 23, 2014
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