Food donations

We share information for businesses and organizations that want to donate food.


  • Donating prepared, unserved food is legal. 
  • Businesses and organizations that donate food in good faith:
    • Are protected by law
    • Receive a tax deduction

See the Food Donation Guidelines brochure

If you have food to donate

Two programs collect prepared, perishable foods:

Download a food donation tracking form

Minnesota Central Kitchen 

This program from Second Harvest Heartland feeds people experiencing hunger. 

If your business wants toTake this action
Donate perishable food Visit
Volunteer your time and cooking expertise Email Chow Girls


  • Packaging
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Other non-food items
Email Chow Girls

Donating meals for children

Restaurants can donate free meals for children.

Submit information to the Hunger Soultions map of meals for kids

Food that cannot be donated

If you have food that cannot be donated, consider using a Hennepin County organics program such as:

  • Food-to-animal
  • Organics composting

Visit Hennepin County organics recycling for businesses

When you donate

Protection from liability

Food donors are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act.

Businesses and organizations that donate food in good faith:

  • Are not liable for the condition of the food
  • Must donate to a nonprofit for distribution to needy individuals.

Save money on your taxes

The federal tax code allows a deduction for donated food.

Read about federal tax deduction for food donations

Help your community and the environment

Donating surplus prepared food helps local hunger-relief agencies serve those in need.

In the U.S., as much as 40% of food produced for people to eat is wasted along the food chain.

Read about U.S. food waste

Read about organics donations and recycling in Hennepin County

Safely donating food

View tips to keep the food you donate safe

The Minnesota Food Code applies to all donated food. 

Temperature requirements 

Donated prepared foods and potentially hazardous foods must meet certain requirements:

Type of foodTemperature requirements
Cold food Must be maintained at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below
Hot food Must be maintained at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above
Cooling hot food

Must be:

  • Cooled from 135 degrees to 71 degrees Fahrenheit in fewer than 2 hours
  • Cooled from 71 degrees to 41 degrees or below in fewer than 4 hours for a total of 6 hours

Examples of potentially hazardous foods: 

  • Cut tomatoes or melons 
  • Dairy products 
  • Meats 
  • Poultry 
  • Seafood 
  • Most cooked food 
  • Cut leafy greens

Labeling food 

Labeling requirements depend on whether the food:

  • Is in its original package
  • Has been prepared as a meal

Donated commercially prepackaged food labels must show: 

  • Name of the item or food 
  • Manufacturer information 
  • List of ingredients 
  • Use-by date, if included
  • The following statement: “Donated Food-Not for Resale.” 

Label donated food on the outside of the container with: 

  • Food name 
  • Food donor
  • Preparation date


Lasagna prepared 1/12/17
From ABC Restaurant
123 Food Street

Each individual item does not need to be labeled. 

Delivering and receiving food 

Send donated food with a log sheet with times and temperature of the food when it left the donating business.

When received, the food temperature should be: 

  • 41ºF or below for cold items  
  • 140ºF or above for hot items 

Completely fill out the log sheet and keep the log sheet with the food.  

Organizations receiving food should keep log sheets for three months.  

Serve food immediately if it: 

  • Is at a temperature between 41ºF and 135ºF
  • Has been outside of that range for two hours or less  

Discard food if it has been outside of that range for more than two hours.

Visit Food safety for more resources

Contact us

Health Department




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Office hours
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday