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Cartoon character stirring a broth made from recovered veggies.

You've made a plan. You've followed through.

Now, what about the leftovers? Or those bananas that are looking maybe a little brown?

Or, what can you do with other excesses at where you work or perhaps your restaurant?

Embrace your creativity!


Resources for Your Home Kitchen to Create New Meals from Imperfect Foods


Create Opportunity for Others

Use what you have

Save the Food Recipe Guide (NRDC)

  • The Natural Resource Defense Council's guide on using up the leftovers, food past its prime, and kitchen scraps

Amazing Waste (UW-Madison, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)

  • Recipe book from 2016 created by two UW-Madison students

There are many online resources as well, including paid services like Ends+Stems, that can help you use all that you buy.


Create opportunity: Donation Safety Guide

Below are some basic guidelines to be sure the foods you wish to donate are safe and can be accepted where you wish to donate them. 

The Wisconsin Community Action Program (WISCAP) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension created the Safe & Health Food Pantries Project. This is a very deep dive into food safety at pantries, and covers pantry operations as well as donation practice. Check their guide for more details.


1) Identify Food You Can Donate

You can donate food that has not been served.

This includes any raw, processed, or prepared food, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use, in whole or in part, for human consumption.

Foods that have been packaged using a reduced oxygen packaging procedure (cook-chill, sous vide) cannot be donated.

There are some foods you cannot donate, despite all good intentions, because they pose safety concerns. (Here's a brief list, but also be sure to contact the pantry you wish to visit before showing up with a basket of food.)


2) Food Should be Kept at the Correction Temperatures for Safe for Donation
Prepared foods must meet and maintain certain temperature requirements to be safely donated. 

Follow the below guidelines to ensure food is safe.


  • Cold Food

Must be kept at 41° F or below


  • Hot Food

Must be kept at 135° F or above


  • Hot Food That Is Cooled
    Hot food that is donated cold must be cooled from 135° F to 70° F within 2 hours and from 70° F to 41° F or below within 4 hours for a total of 6 hours


3) Correctly Label All Food Intended for Donation to Ensure Safety:
Label the outside of the container with the name of the food, your business, the preparation date, and “Donated Food—Not For Resale.”

Foods that must be managed with the temperature concerns noted above, the food prepared in-house must be date-marked to indicate a 7-day maximum hold time and used or discarded by the 7th day

Some examples of foods with time and temperature concerns, also knows as TCS (time controlled for safety) foods, are:

  • Cut tomatoes
  • Dairy
  • Cut melons
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Cut leafy greens


Foods You Should Not Donate (per the Safe & Healthy Food Pantries Project)

  • Home-canned or home-preserved foods
  • Home-prepared meals or desserts
  • Spoiled foods
  • Rotten fruits & vegetables
  • Opened packages of food
  • Foods in crushed, dented, or rusted containers
  • Foods past their "use by" or "best by" dates.
  • Packages of food that are dirty of soiled
  • Foods not to retail businesses


Create opportunity: Donation Organizations

Before donating, always check with where you want to donate before taking food to them or before organizing an event to help them. 

Some locations may have limitations as to what they can take due to lack of refrigeration or other restrictions.

The below list of pantries and gleaning operations is not exhaustive.  If you are aware of an organization that perform this work and would like to be added, please contact the Streets Division so this page can be updated.


Name Contact Location Additional Details
Healthy Food for All - Dane County 1219 N. Sherman Ave HFA's mission: "We collect excess produce from farms and prepared foods from corporate cafeterias that would otherwise go to waste. We clean and repackage this food at the FEED Kitchens and then distribute it to food pantries and neighborhoods all over Madison, WI."
Little John's Kitchens

5302 Verona Rd

(Fitchburg, WI)

Little John's Kitchens focus: "Our primary focus is toward the end of the production line, in the grocery stores. Little John’s partners with grocery stores, taking nutritious ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away due to cosmetic or display space reasons, and converts them into healthy, chef-quality, delicious meals."

The River Food Pantry 2201 Darwin Rd

Check website for list of most needed items.


CAC Gleaners (Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin)  (contact for details)

Per their website: "... CAC Gleaners collect and distribute approximately 800,000 pounds of food per year to shelters, community centers, food pantries, senior centers, soup kitchens, and low-income apartment complexes."

Badger Prairie Needs Network 1200 E. Verona Ave (Verona, WI)

Check website for list of most needed items for this month.


Catholic Multicultural Center
  • 608-661-3512
1862 Beld Street



The Allied Food Pantry
  • 608-467-8058
  • 608-332-9773
4619 Jenewein Rd



Bethel Food Pantry
  • 608-257-3577
312 Wisconsin Avenue


Goodman Community Center Frtiz Food Pantry
  • 608-204-8049
149 Waubesa

Check website for list of most needed items.


Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
  • 608-271-6633
5701 Raymond Rd



Grace Episcopal  Church Food Pantry
  • 608-255-5147
116 W. Washington Ave



Lakeview Lutheran Church
  • 608-244-6181
4001 Mandrake Rd



Lussier Food Pantry
  • 608-833-4979
55 S. Gammon Rd

Lussier Food Pantry wish list for donations.


Meadowood Neighborhood Center
  • 608-467-8360
5734 Raymond Rd



Neighborhood House
  • 608-255-5337
29 S. Mills Street


St. Vincent de Paul
  • 608-257-0919, extension 38
2033 Fish Hatchery Rd



Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center
  • 608-257-4576
504 S. Brearly St.



Middleton Outreach Ministries
  • 608-836-7338
3502 Parmenter St. (Middleton, WI)

Middleton Outreach Ministry's top ten most needed items.


Sun Prairie Emergency Food Pantry 18 Rickel Rd
(Sun Prairie, WI)




worried about "liability" with your donations?

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 was designed to encourage good faith food donations to organizations that distribute food to those in need.  And it is designed to protect individuals, restaurants, and groceries from liability concerns.

The USDA has a FAQ page that explains about how this law applies and protects individuals, restaurants, groceries, food trucks, and many other entities. 

The USDA provides further resources that will help you understand the protections and limitations to this act. 

If it has been a vague worry about "liability" that has prevented you or your organization for getting excess food to those whose need, please use this USDA resources to better understand the rules around food donation.

There is also a Wisconsin state statute (895.51) that offers protection regarding food donation, too.


federal tax deductions for food donation

Yes, there are federal tax incentives for businesses (including farmers) donating wholesome food to qualified non-profit organizations.

Below are some additional resources regarding these incentives. You may also wish to consult with your tax professional as tax rules are often updated and changed:

Subscribe to Email List

Subscribe to the Food Scraps Collection email list:

By participating on this list the Wisconsin Public Records Laws may subject your email address to disclosure to third parties. By selecting "Yes" you are requesting that we treat your email address that you have provided to this list as confidential and you are also stating that you would not participate in this service if the City is obligated to release your email address to such third party requesters.

Yes, keep my information confidential.
No, do not keep my information confidential.