Each month Seattle food service businesses dispose of more than 1,000 tons of edible food. Meanwhile, according to the USDA Washington has the 9th highest level of hunger in the nation and 39% of people served by Washington food banks are children.
Rather than paying to have surplus food hauled away, many businesses have discovered they can safely donate it to feed Seattle's hungry.
Donating Surplus Food is Legal and Safe
Donors who provide food in good faith are protected by both State and Federal Good Samaritan laws designed to encourage donation of needed foods and protect donors.
The Washington Good Samaritan law () and the Federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act ( ) both state you cannot be held liable if you have donated food you believe to be safe and edible.
Food banks protect their donors by offering a variety of liability protections, including: strict standards of warehouse operation, proper storage and handling procedures, complete product tracking and recall capabilities, accurate and timely receipting.
For details on the Washington State Dept of Health's food donation policies, see: Guidelines for Charity Food Donations (PDF, 55kb).
Q: Can we donate packaged foods that do not need refrigeration?
Q: What about fresh produce?
Q: Can licensed food establishments donate menu or deli items?
Q: What about perishable foods past the "sell by" date?
Q: Can food processors donate?
Q: What foods are not suitable for donation?
For more information about donating surplus food, contact Resource Venture, 206.343.8505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donating Surplus Food is Easy
Seattle Hunger Map
The Resource Venture will link you with food rescue agencies that follow the same stringent safe food handling guidelines as your staff. For more information, visit the Seattle Hunger Map, a new website designed to provide linkages between local businesses and hunger agencies. For Seattle food banks and meal programs accepting donations, visit http://hungermaps.org/seattle/.
On the map, red markers indicate food banks and green markers indicate meal programs. To find hunger agencies near you, use the toolbar on the left to zoom to the appropriate neighborhood. Click on the map markers to bring up detailed information about each agency. In the left sidebar, the Seattle Hunger Map also has links to more information about food donation.
For more information about using surplus food, check out the EPA’s guide to food service providers, Putting Surplus Food to Good Use (PDF, 1,082kb).
Food Donation Presentations
Below are two slide presentations from a recent meeting of representatives of the hospitality industry and local hunger agencies to promote edible food recovery:
Food Safety, Food Recovery (PDF, 330kb), Anne Alfred, Public Health – Seattle & King County
Disclaimer: Resource Venture does not provide legal advice. Consult your own legal counsel if you have any concerns about liability.