Frequently Asked Questions

About Food Rescue US

About Food Rescue US

  • Food rescue, also called food recovery, is the practice of collecting fresh, edible food that would have otherwise gone to waste from restaurants, grocers, and other food establishments and distributing it to local social service agencies.
  • Food rescue is extremely effective because it simultaneously gets food to those who need it most and reduces food waste, minimizing the amount of toxic emissions from food waste in landfills.
  • Food waste is an environmental crisis because of its devastating impact on climate change.
  • If food waste as a whole were a country, it would rank third in impact on global warming behind China and the United States.
  • Currently, food waste is contributing 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This is largely because food that ends up in landfills and decomposes releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than CO2.
  • Americans generate more food waste than any other country, and nearly 40% of food waste is healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • The Food Rescue US model rescues this would-be wasted fresh food and provides it at no cost to recipients, alleviating a major stress and burden in the lives of the food insecure, while simultaneously helping the environment.
  • Through the use of our web-based app, Food Rescue US has developed a simple solution to connect the vast amount of healthy, usable surplus food with the critical hunger demand.
  • Using our simple and efficient proprietary app, food donors register available fresh food, social service agencies communicate their food needs and details for delivery, and volunteers sign up for a “food rescue.” Sign up to rescue food here.
  • Once a match is made with a food donation opportunity and a social service agency, a volunteer rescuer self-schedules to pick up the food from the donor and delivers it directly to the local social service agency serving the community.

Three elements make the Food Rescue US model innovative and unique:

  • Our Direct-Transfer Model – Food Rescue US always transfers food with the support of our volunteer food rescuers directly from the food donor to social service agencies serving the food insecure. This enables us to increase access to fresh, nutritious perishables such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products that aren’t available through traditional food recovery models that utilize warehouses. It also makes our model highly sustainable because it doesn't require a large nonprofit infrastructure and instead empowers communities to use existing resources to serve themselves.
  • Our Web-Based App– Our award-winning app is integral to our model and is a large part of what makes Food Rescue US so sustainable and scalable. New volunteers, food donors, and social service agencies use it to start their participation in the Food Rescue US movement as well as to schedule and complete pickups and deliveries. The app also hosts a large portion of our reporting and analytics, including the total number of meals rescued (and the relative pounds of food) as well as more specific information such as a breakdown of the types of food being provided in each community.
  • Our Large Volunteer Base – All participants in our work are members of the communities that we serve, including our Site Directors, food donors, food rescuers, and social service agency partners. Local volunteers use their personal vehicles to transport food and engage directly with our partner agencies, allowing them to experience the results of their efforts firsthand and immediately. Our model connects community members whose paths may never have crossed and gives communities the resources they need to serve themselves, increasing awareness and deepening their commitment and sense of belonging to their community.
  • Food Rescue US operates in 39 locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Within some of our locations, we partner with other 501(c)(3) organizations working to combat hunger and food waste within their communities. They use our proprietary software to facilitate their food recovery work. In the remaining locations, they operate under the Food Rescue US name and are led by a Site Director.
  • A full locations list can be viewed here.

Traditional food rescue models primarily rescue boxed and canned foods that are high in carbohydrates because they utilize warehouses and perishables spoil too quickly. Food Rescue US understands the importance of providing fresh, nutritious food, and because we utilize a direct-transfer model, we are able to rescue and provide perishables, including produce, fish/meat, and dairy products, as well as premade meals. The food that we rescue is either excess inventory or does not meet the high cosmetic standards in the food industry. Our Site Directors are always seeking out new sources of fresh, nutritious food and assessing new food donor signups to ensure that we are providing high-quality food and meals.

Need More Help?

For any further questions, please email

For immediate assistance, please contact your local Site Director. Full contact information for all Site Directors can be found here.

Being A Food Donor

We rescue small to large amounts of food from an array of food donors including bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, farmer’s markets, corporate cafeterias, schools, hotels, convention centers, farms, and more.

To register as a food donor, contact your local Site Director. A list of our locations and contact information for our Site Directors is available on our website. For any additional questions, please email

Food donations are tax-deductible. Food donors are responsible for tracking their food donations.

Food Rescue US has a robust publicity and social media program through which we happily promote our Food Donors. Connect with us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

No. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act passed into law by Congress in 1997 states that donors are protected from both civil and criminal liability when donating food in good faith to a non-profit organization even if the donated food later causes harm to a recipient. This law was created to encourage the donation of food and grocery products.

To access the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, click here:

A smiling man holds up hands full of kale and greens

Who Gets The Food?

Food Rescue US delivers food to local social service agencies that serve food insecure individuals and families. Our agency partners include community soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and other hunger relief organizations. Food Rescue US serves people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities that are economically disadvantaged and food insecure.

To become a social service agency partner, contact your local Site Director. A list of our locations and contact information for our Site Directors is available on our website For further questions, please contact us at


Yes. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act passed into law by Congress in 1997 states that donors are protected from both civil and criminal liability when donating food in good faith to a non-profit organization even if the donated food later causes harm to a recipient. This law was created to encourage the donation of food and grocery products.

The original enactment in 1990 of the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act by Congress (Title IV of the National and Community Service Act) was later amended and signed into law on October 1, 1996 by President Bill Clinton as the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (“Food Donation Act”).

The Food Donation Act supports and encourages the donation of food and grocery product by:

  • Protecting food donors from any civil or criminal liability when donating food in good faith to a non-profit organization for the distribution to needy individuals.
  • Protecting non-profit organizations from civil or criminal liability arising from a good faith donation for distribution to needy individuals.
  • Protecting good faith donations from any liability arising from “the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product” even if the food “may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.”

To access the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, click here:

The safety of our community is of the utmost importance to us. While we have continued our operations throughout the COVID-19 crisis to serve the increasing number of people experiencing food insecurity, we have required that all community members follow the CDC safety guidelines. We have also implemented contactless rescues and are requiring all individuals to wear a mask and practice social distancing while participating in the Food Rescue US movement.

A woman and teen girl smile and hold boxes of fresh tomatoes


  1. Sign up through this link and create your account.
  2. View the available rescues and pick one that fits your schedule.
  3. Arrive at the local food donor at the date and time you selected and follow the directions in the app.
  4. Drive the food to the social service agency listed on the platform and see the impact of your volunteer time!

For volunteers interested in supporting a location that is not listed above, please visit our Launch a Site page to learn about the possibility of bringing Food Rescue US to your community. 

Nope. Our app is designed to be user-friendly and has a comprehensive tutorial to answer any questions.

Yes. Food Rescue US rescues food seven days a week, 365 days a week. Hunger does not take a day off. 

The average food rescue takes approximately 30 minutes. Our food rescues are designed to be convenient for rescuers and quick so that the food spends minimal time in transport.

The beauty of volunteering with Food Rescue US is that volunteers can select the schedule that works for them. Some of our volunteers rescue food several times each week while others rescue food sporadically throughout the year as it fits into their schedule.

No. Our food rescues vary in size so you can choose the ones that work best for you. The scheduling information within our software gives you all the details about the anticipated amount of food you’ll be rescuing.

There may be small rescues that would be perfect for pick-up by bike. If this is something that is of interest to you, please contact your local Site Director directly.

Absolutely. Every food rescue on the schedule lists complete details including the address of the food donor and the social service agency, the amount of food you will be rescuing, and any particulars about the rescue that are helpful for you to know.

Yes. Food Rescue US works with food donors and social service agencies to be sure there is ample parking for the volunteer food rescuer.

Sometimes. One of our goals is to make the rescue and delivery of food as seamless as possible for the food donors and social service agencies. We understand that their priority must be to run their businesses and organizations without distraction, so we try to make the amount of food reasonable for volunteers to manage themselves.

Food will typically be packaged in either cardboard cartons or aluminum trays, depending on the type of food being donated.

If there’s too much food, take what you can. If you have time to do two trips, that’s fantastic but if not, simply contact the Site Director and let them know.

Yes, many volunteers do food rescues as a family. 

Each of our geographic locations has a Site Director who can help you at any time with questions. Their names and phone numbers are listed by location on our website In addition, our national office is available at 800-280-3298.

We understand that things come up and have made it easy to cancel a rescue right on our app. We ask that you please give as much notice as possible so that we can find someone else to complete the food rescue.

Yes! We encourage volunteers to adopt a weekly rescue so it becomes part of their schedule. And there’s always someone to cover for you if you’re periodically not available.

Photo: TJ Samuels
A Food Rescue US volunteer smiles next to a pickup truck bed full of rescued food.

Learn More. Make a Difference.

Two Food Rescue US volunteers smile together at the farmers market

How We Help

A Food Rescue US volunteer hands a bag of food to 2 women at a receiving agency