How to Donate Food

Approximately 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted. Organic materials, including food scraps, make up about 37% of the materials sent to local landfills. Much of this wasted food could be put to good use including feeding people!

Why donate food?

  • Help end hunger: One in six people in Central Texas struggle to have enough food to eat, and almost 25% of children in Travis County lack consistent access to food.Photo of person handing another person two boxes marked "Kitchen Pride Mushrooms"
  • Conserve valuable resources: Wasted food represents 4% of U.S. oil consumption and requires 25% of our fresh water supply to grow.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Uneaten food in landfills accounts for 23% of the nation’s output of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
  • Save money: Businesses can receive tax incentives for food donations while simultaneously lowering their disposal costs. And for businesses in Austin, food donation counts towards compliance with the Universal Recycling Ordinance.

Which foods can be donated?

  • Pre-packaged foods that are non-perishable and fresh, whole fruits and vegetables that have not been cut may be collected for donation and distribution without a permit.
  • Certain foods that require time/temperature control for safety (such as cut fruit, hot meals, dairy products, eggs, meat, etc.) may be donated if both the donor and recipient are food permitted facilities and the food has been properly handled at an appropriate temperature. See Food Donation Guidelines for more details and information on which foods are not suitable for donation.

    Fruits and veggies in baskets surrounded by a green circle

Who will take food donations?

  • Food pantries: Use to find a food pantry near you that accepts donations. Call ahead to make sure that the pantry can accept your donation and coordinate how and when it should be delivered or picked up.
  • Food rescue programs like Keep Austin Fed may be able to help with donation logistics.

Worried about your liability?

Don't be! The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act encourages companies and organizations to donate healthy food that would otherwise go to waste by protecting them from criminal and civil liability.

Helpful tips

  • Keep track of donations by weighing and recording any donated foods for your tax records.
  • Make sure foods are maintained at safe temperatures and are properly labeled.

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