Donating prepared, unserved food is legal.
Businesses and organizations that donate food in good faith are protected by law and receive a tax deduction.
If you have food to donate
The unprecedented closure of dine-in food service has some businesses looking for ways to donate food before it spoils. Two programs collecting perishable are Minnesota Central Kitchen and Second Harvest Heartland's Meal Connect.
If you have food that cannot be donated, consider using a Hennepin County organics program such as food-to-animal or organics composting.
Minnesota Central Kitchen
Minnesota Central Kitchen is an initiative of Second Harvest Heartland. The partnership feeds community members who are experiencing hunger.
- Food operators with perishable product to donate should visit www.MealConnect.org. You will be asked to create an account and post your product as a donation. Meal Connect has transportation logistics in place to collect and deliver food to a partner kitchen.
- Food service professionals who want to volunteer their time and cooking expertise should email email@example.com.
- Businesses that want to donate packaging, cleaning/sanitizing supplies and other non-food items should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donating meals for kids
Is your restaurant offering free meals for kids during COVID-19? Submit your information to the Hunger Solutions map of meals for kids.
When you donate
Protection from liability
Businesses and organizations that donate food in good faith to a nonprofit for distribution to needy individuals are not subject to civil or criminal liability that arises from the condition of the food.
Food donors are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act, which was passed into federal law in 1996.
Save money on your taxes
The federal tax code allows a deduction for donated food. Eligible businesses can deduct the lesser of either:
- (a) Twice the cost of acquiring the donated food, or
- (b) The cost of acquiring the donated food, plus one-half of the food’s expected profit margin, if it were sold at its fair market value.
Contact your tax professional to determine its application to your business.
Help your community and the environment
Donating surplus prepared food helps local hunger-relief agencies serve those in need, including many children and seniors.
In the United States, as much as 40 percent of food produced for people to eat is wasted along the food chain. Eleven percent of Minnesotans don’t have a steady supply of food to their tables.
Learn how to keep the food you donate safe in the food donation guidelines brochure.
Visit Food Safety for more food safety resources.