Become a Donor for Feeding It Forward

Thank you for saving food and helping our community!

Thank you for considering donating food!

Donating unsold, surplus food is easy with ChowMatch, our web tool and mobile app. ChowMatch matches food donations directly with food assistance organizations and then alerts volunteer food runners who pick up and deliver the food.
Donors select the type and quantity of food they donate, and they set up food runs as they wish – on a regular, recurring basis or one-time food runs with the same recipient organization or the one most in need.

To donate excess nutritional, edible food, please log onto the ChowMatch application.

All Feeding It Forward participants must follow Napa County approved standards for safe handling, transportation, and distribution of rescued food. A concise guide will be available soon

General information for food donations, standards, requirements...
Standards for Donated Food
  • Fit for human consumption – provides protection regardless of compliance with packaging and labeling laws.
  • Food must be unadulterated and of same safety as that served in your establishment.
Requirements for Donated Food
  • Permitted food facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, food processing facilities, food distributors, and caterers can donate prepared foods and meals (e.g., hot trays that remained back-of-house).
  • A food facility must handle and store the food to be donated in a safe and sanitary manner. Food donated to the less fortunate must be
  • Maintained in the same manner as food sold to your customers.
  • Food must be unadulterated.
  • Foods that have been previously served to a consumer cannot be donated.
The Truth About Date Labels
  • Most of the date labels we see every day, with a few exceptions, like “sell by,” “use by”, or ” best if used by” DO NOT indicate food safety – they indicate freshness or quality.
  • In California, with the exception of infant formula/baby food and Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP) products, there is NO RESTRICTION on the sale or donation of food items past the date indicated on any date label.
    • However, regardless of the date on the label, it is important that the donated food is apparently wholesome.
Protecting Food From Contamination
  • Food must be protected from potential contamination at all times through the use of sanitary, food-grade containers, and by ensuring that transport vehicles are clean and free of vermin.
Time And Temperature Control

Prior to Transport:

  • COLD FOODS: Must always remain at 41°F or below
  • FROZEN FOODS: Must always remain at 32°F or below
  • HOT FOODS: Must always remain at 135°F or above
  • All food must meet current CA Retail Food Code requirements…

Donations of whole produce, canned goods, dry foods, and other similar products can be donated anytime with no requirement for temperature controls. Provided they meet prior requirements.

What kinds of foods may be donated?
Required Food Information

Food donors should be prepared to provide the following information, either verbally or in writing, to the recipient organization:

  • Source of the food
  • How the food was kept free from contamination during storage, preparation, and transport
  • How, where, and when the food was prepared
  • How the food was maintained at the proper temperature
  • If/how long the food was out of temperature control
  • Common name of a dry food staple

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions from Donors

Why Donate?

Donating your food for rescue / recovery is a low-risk, high-benefit way to reduce waste, feed the hungry, shrink your enterprise’s environmental footprint and enhance its sustainability, save money, and access valuable tax incentives.

Liability Concerns & Benefits by Donors

Liability Concerns & Benefits
Liability Protection - Federal

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, established in 1996, protects businesses and individuals that donate food in good faith from being held liable should someone become sick from consuming donated food. The only exception to the law is in the case of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

  • This Act also gives uniform minimum federal protection to donors who may cross state lines.
  • The law protects individuals, for-profit and non-profit businesses, and governmental entities.
  • Even if the food may not be “readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions,” the Federal Act protects food and grocery products as long as they meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by regulations at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • As a federal statute, The Good Samaritan Act creates a uniform minimum level of protection from liability for donors and gleaners nationwide.

Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act –  42 U.S. Code § 1791

Donors must meet the following criteria:
  • The food must be donated to a nonprofit.
  • Food must meet all Federal, State, and Local quality and labeling requirements.
  • If it does not, the food must be reconditioned to meet all requirements.
  • The receiving nonprofit organization must distribute it to needy individuals.
  • Needy individuals receiving the food may not pay for it.
    • However, if one nonprofit donates food to another nonprofit for distribution, the Act allows the first nonprofit to charge the distributing nonprofit a nominal fee to cover handling and processing costs.
  • As long as these criteria are met and the donor does not act with gross negligence or intentional misconduct, the Emerson Act is very protective of donors.
  • EXCEPTION:
    • DIRECT DONATIONS from donor to needy individuals are not protected by the Act (e.g., if a restaurant manager gives leftover food to a needy individual, the manager is not protected from liability under the Good Samaritan Law)
Enhanced Tax Deduction

If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible for the federal enhanced tax deduction which allows you to deduct the smaller of the following two: (a) twice the basis value of the donated food or (b) the basis value of the donated food plus one-half of the food’s expected profit margin. **Please contact a tax preparer for questions and guidance

TAX DEDUCTION CRITERIA

  1. The recipient food recovery organization or recipient must be an IRC 501(c) (3) organization and a public charity or a private operating foundation
  2. The recipient must give the donated food solely to the ill, the needy, or infants
  3. The recipient may not use or transfer the food in exchange for money, other property, or services
  4. The recipient must provide a written statement to donor stating that all requirements of IRC 170 (e)(3) have been met
  5. The donated food must be in compliance with the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and California Health and Safety Code (CHSC)
California Protections
  • California Health and Safety Code § 114433.
    • No food facility that donates food as permitted by § 114432 shall be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty for violation of any laws, regulations, or ordinances regulating the labeling or packaging of the donated product or with respect to any other laws, regulations, or ordinances, for a violation occurring after the time of the donation.
  • California Civil Code § 1714.25 (a)
    • Except for injury resulting from negligence or willful act in the preparation or handling of donated food, no food facility that donates any food that is fit for human consumption at the time it was donated to a nonprofit charitable organization or a food bank shall be liable for any damage or injury resulting from the consumption of the donated food. The immunity from civil liability provided by this subdivision applies regardless of compliance with any laws, regulations, or ordinances regulating the packaging or labeling of food, and regardless of compliance with any laws, regulations, or ordinances regulating the storage or handling of food after the donation of the food.
  • California Food and Agriculture Code §58505
    • Except for injury resulting from gross negligence or willful act, no county or agency of a county established pursuant to this chapter and no person who donates any agricultural product shall be liable for any injury, including, but not limited to, injury resulting from the ingesting of such agricultural product, as a result of any act, or the omission of any act, in connection with any product pursuant to this chapter.
  • California Health and Safety Code § 114435
    • The donation of perishable & nonperishable food that is fit for human consumption but that has exceeded the labeled shelf life date recommended by the manufacturer is protected under the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, if the person that distributes the food to the end recipient makes a good faith evaluation that the food to be donated is wholesome.
General information for food donations, standards, requirements...
Standards for Donated Food
  • Fit for human consumption – provides protection regardless of compliance with packaging and labeling laws.
  • Food must be unadulterated and of same safety as that served in your establishment.
Requirements for Donated Food
  • Permitted food facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, food processing facilities, food distributors, and caterers can donate prepared foods and meals (e.g., hot trays that remained back-of-house).
  • A food facility must handle and store the food to be donated in a safe and sanitary manner. Food donated to the less fortunate must be
  • Maintained in the same manner as food sold to your customers.
  • Food must be unadulterated.
  • Foods that have been previously served to a consumer cannot be donated.
The Truth About Date Labels
  • Most of the date labels we see every day, with a few exceptions, like “sell by,” “use by”, or ” best if used by” DO NOT indicate food safety – they indicate freshness or quality.
  • In California, with the exception of infant formula/baby food and Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP) products, there is NO RESTRICTION on the sale or donation of food items past the date indicated on any date label.
    • However, regardless of the date on the label, it is important that the donated food is apparently wholesome.
Protecting Food From Contamination
  • Food must be protected from potential contamination at all times through the use of sanitary, food-grade containers, and by ensuring that transport vehicles are clean and free of vermin.
Time And Temperature Control

Prior to Transport:

  • COLD FOODS: Must always remain at 41°F or below
  • FROZEN FOODS: Must always remain at 32°F or below
  • HOT FOODS: Must always remain at 135°F or above
  • All food must meet current CA Retail Food Code requirements…

Donations of whole produce, canned goods, dry foods, and other similar products can be donated anytime with no requirement for temperature controls. Provided they meet prior requirements.

What kinds of foods may be donated?
Food Prepared at Home
  • Home prepared meals, home-canned products or any food prepared in a private home are NOT allowed per FDA and CRFC.
  • Shelf Stable, e.g., canned goods, can be donated. Please see this link for more information.
Non-perishable and Shelf Stable Food

Very large amounts of non-perishable and shelf stable food, such as canned or frozen food, can also be donated to the Napa Valley Food Bank. Please contact in advance at 707-253-6128.

Donations Outside Napa County

The following organizations in the Bay Area can help if you have food to donate outside of Napa County:

Marin County
San Francisco
San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties
Sonoma County

Food Safety Information
How do I know my food is being handled safely?

Every volunteer handling food will have access to food safety instruction specifically for food recovery and must pass a food safety test prior to participating. They will not be granted access to the application until they pass this in-depth quiz. In addition, logging/reporting will detail the time and location of pickups and drop-offs so that you know your donation has been handled safely. If you would like to have this information reported back, please notify us.

We understand that your reputation is highly regarded, so we will do everything possible to ensure the food is handled safely and properly.

Is there a minimum donation requirement?

There is no minimum donation size, however, we do request that your donation be enough to feed 10 people or be at least 10 pounds.

If you or your staff are willing to transport to an organization to fight food insecurity, then the minimum amount may not apply.

Is there a maximum donation limit?

No, but please allow advance notification of possible large donations to ensure that the food rescued is utilized by our collaborating organizations.

Large amounts of non-perishable and shelf stable food, such as canned or frozen food, should be donated to the Napa Valley Food Bank. Please contact them in advance at 707-253-6128 or via the website.

Food we cannot accept.

Donating food that is no longer suitable for consumption or that has not been prepared, transported, and/or handled in accordance with state and local food handling guidelines cannot be accepted.

  • Any foods prepared, cooked, cooled, or reheated at home
  • Perishable foods past a “use by” date, unless frozen
  • Foods previously served to consumers
  • Foods in sharply dented, swollen, bulging, leaking or rusted cans
  • Foods in opened or torn containers exposing the food to potential contamination
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Foods with an “off” odor or that show any signs of spoilage (browning, slimy layer, unusual color)
  • “Distressed” foods. Including food that has been exposed to fire, flooding, excessive heat, smoke, radiation, other environmental contamination
  • Foods designated for discard per regulatory or donor standards
  • Alcohol

For food that has not been prepared in a permitted (licensed) operation — e.g., your home-cooked food.

Our common sense rules are:

  • If you would not feed it to your family and loved ones, then compost it.
  • If in doubt, throw it into the compost.
  • The official rules can be found in the California Retail Food Code (CRFC).
Can individuals be food donors?

To donate to an agency like ours, you must be a permitted food facility per CRFC & Environmental Health. There are many ways individuals can help end hunger. We unfortunately cannot accept individual donations.