Food Recovery Initiative

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

What is food recovery?

“Wasted, surplus or excess food” are terms commonly used to describe wholesome, nutritious food that is lost or sent for disposal. It isn’t spoiled food, but rather it may include unsold food from retail stores, untouched prepared food or trimmings from restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias or industrial processing. The terms “wasted, surplus or excess food” are often used when discussing food recovery for donation to feed people. (EPA)

EPA Food Waste

“The Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy focuses on different management strategies for your wasted food.

The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy.” (EPA)

The second tier of food recovery is “Feed Hungry People”. Our aim is to help City businesses create a food donation program that eliminates unnecessary waste of edible, prepared food by providing resources and a list of local organizations to donate.

The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (AB 1219) protects you!

In October 2017, Governor Brown signed AB 1219 into law. This bill expands the current Federal Good Samaritan Act to cover persons, gleaners and authorized food facilities who donate to nonprofit charitable organizations, food banks or directly to end recipients. The bill:

  • Protects donations to end users from civil and criminal liability
  • Protects products that have passed their “sell by”, “best by or “use by” dates but are still safe for human consumption
  • Eliminates the requirement for nonprofit organizations to re-label or package products that do not meet labeling standards
  • Increases public awareness about protections and incentives to increase food donation
  • Lays out plan for implementation, in which health inspectors inform food distributors and retailers about their protections and incentives


Where do I start?

  1. Evaluate where possible food donations are generated: is it from food prep, surplus produce or leftover prepped food?
  2.  Check out the EPA’s checklist on ways to reduce food waste in your restaurant kitchen.
  3. Find a place to donate: See below for our map of local food recovery organizations and establish a relationship.

Are you a food recovery organization? Contact Dean Hartwell to apply to be put on our list.


Need a little more help? Contact organizations that will help set up a food recovery system for you!


 Donated all you can? Next: Organics Recycling (Compost it)!

Private commercial haulers. Some private haulers have an organics/compost pick up program. Ask your hauler if they have compost collection available.

Direct to farmers & produce suppliers. Compost is good for everyone: helps reduce your waste, helps the farmers grow good food, and your customers will love it. Talk to produce suppliers and farms you work with to see about setting up a program for them to take the compost back



Additional resources: