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Food Donation Guide

Food Donation Guidelines

Food Shift recovers perishable and nonperishable food items from grocery stores and catered events and donates the surplus food to partner agencies that feed the hungry. We are committed to maintaining the highest level of food safety and follow the guidelines set forth by the California Department of Public Health.

As such, we only accept perishable and prepared food items that have been handled and stored at safe temperatures and chilled prior to donation. We do not accept food that has previously been served to the public (hot bar items, food set on the serving line, etc.) and can only take donated prepared foods from licensed or regulated food service providers (grocers, restaurants, caterers, bakeries, etc). All donations are tax deductible.

Special Note: Food Shift will accept food past its expiration date. Date labeling is not federally mandated* and is not an indication of when food is spoiled or inedible.** A primary principle of  U.S. food law is that foods must be wholesome and fit for consumption, so any food past  the expiration date but otherwise wholesome (closed packaging, kept refrigerated or frozen, not spoiled or growing mold, properly handled and not cross-contaminated) can be donated in good faith and thus without fear of legal liability. For more on legal liability, please see below.

Prepared Foods 

Storage: Chilled temperature is 40°F or less; frozen is 0°F or less 4-April 2014 Lemonade, Granola, Stuffing
Packaging: Securely sealed; items packaged separately. If using pans, they should be ¾ full with only one food item in each pan. Ideally we will enter into an arrangement with the donating partner in which we utilize reusable containers.
Reasons for refusal:
o A pan contains more than one type of food (e.g. side and main dishes mixed together)
o Food has not been held at the proper temperature
o Packaging is severely damaged or leaking
o Food has been cooked with alcohol

Packaged Perishable Foods

Storage: Chilled temperature is 40°F or less; frozen is 0°F or less
Packaging: Securely sealed; items packaged separately
Reasons for refusal:
o Packaging has been damaged, punctured or the seal has been broken (dented can are ok)
o Food has not been held at the proper temperature

Baked Goods

Storage: Cool, dry
Packaging: Packed in bags, boxes or bins
Reasons for refusal:
o Stale/hard bread

Fresh ProduceFood-Shift_PH_FarmersMkt_2_IMG_1277GP

Storage: Temperature is cool, dry (varies based on product)
Packaging:  Packed in bags, boxes or bins
Reasons for refusal:
o Product shows significant decay or odor
o Product shows signs of mishandling

Frozen Foods

Includes dairy, meat vegetables and bread

Storage: Temperature is 0°F or less
Packaging: Foods must be in their intact, original packaging
Reasons for refusal:
o Packaging has been damaged so as to expose the food (wet-cardboard or dented packages are ok, as long as the food remain sealed)
o Product shows signs of previous thaw, such as water stains and/or
ice crystals

Dry Goods

Storage: Temperature is cool, dry
Packaging: Foods must be in their intact, original packaging
Reasons for refusal:
o Packaging has been damaged or the seal has been broken (dented or misshapen packaging is ok as long as the food has not been exposed)
o Product shows signs of leakage or bulging

We do not accept

o  Alcohol or foods prepared with alcohol
o  Foods not prepared in a commercial, regulated, or licensed kitchen
o  Foods that are open, have a broken seal, or show signs of tampering
o  Foods that have been held at improper temperatures

LiabilityIMG_7694

All donors are protected from liability under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, passed by congress 1996. This act has allows donors across the nation to support an effective effort in fighting hunger by limiting liability of businesses and nonprofits that donate and distribute food to those in need.

A primary priciple of  U.S. food law is that foods must be wholesome and fit for consumption, so any food outside of the expiration date but otherwise wholesome (closed packaging, kept refrigerated or frozen, not spoiled or growing mold, properly handled and not cross-contaminated) can be donated in good faith and thus without fear of legal liability

Questions? Contact us!

*Except for baby formula and some baby foods.

**Learn more in Dana Frasz’s article on food date labeling here.