Donate and Rescue Food


A note about liability: 

Despite misconceptions, no one has ever been sued for donating food since since the passage of the  Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Law in 1996 (which extends federal liability coverage to anyone donating food in good faith to a 501c3 non-profit or church)

Table of Contents

Where to Donate Food
Food Rescue
Food Recovery in Schools
Food Safety Tips
Liability Protection, Tax Deductions & Other Resources

Check out the “For Businesses” and “For Educators” pages for additional food donation resources for businesses and schools

Where to Donate Food

Please contact the organization before dropping off food to find out what, when and how to donate.

Greater DC Area Food Donation Map

Click on any site to learn how to donate food to them.

Places to Donate Food


Allen Chapel AME Church
Bread for the City
Capital Area Food Bank*
Capitol Hill United Methodist Church (Our Daily Bread)
DC Central Kitchen *
Food and Friends
Food Not Bombs DC
Martha’s Table
Miriam’s Kitchen
N Street Village
SOME (So Others Might Eat)
Thrive DC

Greater DC- VA
Food For Others
United Community Ministries

Greater DC- MD
Bethesda Cares
Manna Food Bank*
Shepherd’s Table


*These agencies have their own trucks and may be able to pick large donations.  Call ahead of time!

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Food Rescue

Are you a business or organization who has food to donate, but doesn’t have time or a vehicle to transport it? Are you an organization who needs donated food? Are you a volunteer who would like to rescue food? Check out these food rescue programs!

 Food Rescue US, DC’s First Food Runner Program

The Food Rescue US app connects businesses with food to donate, volunteer food rescuers, and receiving agencies.

Community Food Rescue
Community Food Rescue connects farms and business with food to donate with volunteers who transport the food to food assistance groups in Montgomery County, MD.

Join the MEANS network if you are a business with food to donate or a food bank/pantry who can organize their own food pick up.

Care to Feed/Food In Motion
Food In Motion connects businesses with food to donate, volunteer food rescuers, and agencies that distribute recovered food to those in need.

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Food Recovery in Schools

Below are programs to help food recovery at schools

Food Recovery Network  (Just Colleges)
Organizes college chapters to recover college cafeteria food

Share Tables
A “shared table” program allows schools to set aside food that wasn’t eaten for children to eat at a later time, take home, or donate to a receiving agency.

DC’s Food Code allows re-serving “not potentially hazardous” food on a share table such as preserved food in a wrapper, fruit with peels, etc.

Re-serving “potentially hazardous” foods (e.g. sealed milk) requires applying for a DOH variance to prove you can keep the milk cool long enough to be recovered.

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DC Food Project
Local nonprofit that sets up shared tables at schools and rec centers.

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WWF: Food Waste Warrior Toolkit (For Schools)
The food waste warrior toolkit provides lessons, activities and resources to share how what we eat and what we throw away impacts our planet by creating a classroom in the cafeteria.

DCPS Recycles!
DGS program to recycle and compost at DCPS schools.

Food Bus
Non profit that helps schools set up food recovery programs.

Pop Up Pantries
Schools can collect extra food for a short time to hold an on-site pop up pantry for community members in need.  It may be necessary for a 501c3 non profit to oversee this donation to qualify for the Good Samaritan federal liability coverage.   But the new DC Save Good Food Act, if it passes the DC Council, will extend the liability coverage to anyone donating at anytime.


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Food Safety Tips

  • Never leave cooked food out of refrigeration over 2 hours.
    • If room temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.
  • Bacteria grow most rapidly in between 40 °F and 140 °F
    • Try to store food below 40 °F or above 140 °F why waiting/transporting
  • When possible keep hot and cold food in insulated sealed containers to increase safe unrefrigerated time
    • When possible use ice or cold packs for cold food
  • When in doubt let donation receiver know to make sure food is reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming.

When possible use sealable and insulated containers when donating food


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Liability Protection, Tax Deductions & Other Resources

Liability Coverage

Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Law
Extends federal liability coverage to anyone donating food in good faith to a 501c3 non-profit or church.

DC Food Donation Liability Protection
The DC law related to liability protection for food donation is D.C. Code Ann. § 48-301. The law provides criminal and civil liability protection to food businesses that donate food to a non-profit that distributes food for free or a nominal charge. This protection applies unless there is evidence of gross negligence or intentional misconduct by the donor.

DC Save Good Food Act (not yet passed)
Extends liability coverage to anyone donating at anytime.  Allows people to donate directly to people in need instead of a non profit or church middle person.  Click on the link to learn how you can help pass this law.

Tax Incentives

Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction
Federal food donation tax benefits for businesses

Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP)
VA State Tax Credits for donating food

Maryland Food Donation Tax Credit Pilot Program
Tax credit for farmers donating food

Other Resources

DC Food Recovery Guide 2017
The DC Food Recovery Guide is a resource guide for DC Communities promoting all of the programs and resources in all aspects of food recovery in DC.

Food Recovery in the District of Columbia: A Legal Guide
The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic partnered with the DC Food Recovery Working Group to publish the “Food Recovery in the District of Columbia: A Legal Guide”, which lays out laws and policies related to food recovery in DC.

Capital Area Food Bank Produce Guides
Provides storage advice, recommended uses, nutrition facts, etc. for many of the produce items CAFB distributes (in English & Spanish) 

Community Food Rescue
Great food recovery and safety pamphlets, videos and educational resources in multiple languages

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If you know of any food recovery resources we’ve missing or have any feedback for the ones we have please email