How to Donate Food from Catered Events

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At this time of year, holiday festivities abound—and with them an abundance of food, sometimes more than guests can eat. If you’re hosting a catered event at home or work, plan ahead for the donation of any trays of extra food with these tips from  

  • At least a few days before the event, identify and contact a food donation partner in your community that may be able to receive surplus food. To find nonprofits near you that accept food for donation, visit and search for “Food for Donation.”
  • Ask about location, hours, types of food accepted, packaging, safe food storage requirements, and if they can pick up or need you to deliver the food.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate food-safe packaging materials on hand to transport the food.
  • During your event, be mindful of how much people are eating and serve accordingly.
  • Label food for donation with item description and date. If possible, list ingredients or potential allergens (e.g. nuts, gluten).
  • Store foods at proper temperature until pick-up/drop-off. See the USDA’s Basics for Handling Food Safely for further guidance.

Worried about liability? You don’t have to be. The Federal and California Good Samaritan Food Donation Acts protect donors of surplus food from liability.
For more information, check out StopWaste’s Surplus Food Donation Guide for Food Service Providers and Schools.