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!
Create Opportunity for Others
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
- 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.
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
- Cut melons
- 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
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.
|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
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||
||1862 Beld Street||
|The Allied Food Pantry||
||4619 Jenewein Rd||
|Bethel Food Pantry||
||312 Wisconsin Avenue||
|Goodman Community Center Frtiz Food Pantry||
Check website for list of most needed items.
|Good Shepherd Lutheran Church||
||5701 Raymond Rd||
|Grace Episcopal Church Food Pantry||
||116 W. Washington Ave||
|Lakeview Lutheran Church||
||4001 Mandrake Rd||
|Lussier Food Pantry||
||55 S. Gammon Rd||
|Meadowood Neighborhood Center||
||5734 Raymond Rd||
||29 S. Mills Street||
|St. Vincent de Paul||
||2033 Fish Hatchery Rd||
|Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center||
||504 S. Brearly St.||
|Middleton Outreach Ministries||
||3502 Parmenter St. (Middleton, WI)||
|Sun Prairie Emergency Food Pantry||
||18 Rickel Rd
(Sun Prairie, WI)
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.
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:
- Natural Resource Defense Council: A Farmer's Guide to the Enhanced Federal Tax Deductions for Food Donation
- ReFED: Federal Tax Incentives
- Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic & University of Arkansas School of Law's Food Recovery Project: Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation 
- Internal Revenue Service: Code 170(e)(3) 
- USDA Donations website
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