FAQ's Edible Food Recovery Program
How does my business benefit by donating food?
Donor Liability Protections
State and Federal food donation laws protect your business from liability when donating food as long as the food was handled safely before donation. Food facilities may legally donate food to any nonprofit or directly to the community. Refer to this Food Donation Guide for further information on the liability protection laws, developed by the County San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality.
Potential Tax Benefits
Donating food can help reduce your business’s tax burden. Refer to this helpful guide(External link) to estimate your potential tax savings resulting from food donation. Be sure to consult your legal and tax adviser.
Potential Reduction on Waste Hauling Collection Services
Donating food will reduce the total volume of food being discarded to trash or even to the organics bin. This could potentially reduce the size or number of collection containers, or their collection frequency, resulting in lower collection bills for the business. Please contact EDCO(External link) for assistance in right-sizing your service.
Benefiting the Local Community
Donating surplus food helps bridge the gap between those that are food insecure and the excess food that businesses generate. Businesses should be proud to showcase their efforts in contributing to their community.
How do I get my business started?
The City has prepared a Food Donation Directory that lists the food recovery organizations and services known to provide food recovery to businesses in the City. Contact one of the food banks or a food recovery organization directly to schedule an appointment with them.
Please note that your food recovery partner may not have the ability to accept the total amount or all the types of surplus foods your business has available to recover. Your business may require contracts or written agreements with more than one food recovery partner in order to recover all the excess food generated and be compliant.
Food recovery organizations and services are not required to accept the foods your business makes available to them. Certain food items may not be accepted by the food banks. It is also up to their discretion to determine if the food is unfit for donation. “Donation dumping” of inedible food is not acceptable.
All food donations must meet the food safety requirements of the California Retail Food Code.
City staff will be contacting businesses to further discuss the food recovery requirements, explore food recovery opportunities and offer assistance.
What are the edible food recovery requirements for Commercial Edible Food Generators?
Tier 1 and Tier 2 Commercial Edible Food Generators are required to:
Recover the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise be disposed.
Establish contracts or written agreements with food recovery organizations and services and maintain a copy onsite.
Not intentionally spoil edible food.
Keep detailed records onsite of food recovery activities including:
- A list of each food recovery organization and service that collects or receives edible food pursuant to a contract or written agreement (food bank partners can help with this).
For each food recovery organization and service, list: 1) Name, address and contact info of the service or organization; 2) Types of food that will be collected or self-hauled; 3) Established frequency that food will be collected or self-hauled; 4) Quantity of food collected or self-hauled, measured in pounds recovered per month; 5) Amount and types of edible food not accepted by food recovery organizations or services for donation
Submit records (or copies of records) of items listed above in an annual report to the City by July 1st. The annual report shall cover the previous calendar year (January – December). The City will provide a courtesy notification to Generators that will include submittal methods. Generators may also email their report to: [email protected]
Allow the City and its representatives to conduct inspections of records and food recovery activities.
What are the requirements for Food Recovery Organizations and Food Recovery Services?
Only those Food Recovery Organizations and Food Recovery Services that have their primary address physically located within the City and that have contracts or written agreements with one or more commercial edible food generators are required to comply with the City’s Edible Food Recovery record keeping and annual reporting requirements.
Record Keeping Requirements
Starting January 1, 2022, Food Recovery Services located in the City are required to keep the following records:
The name, address, and contact information for each commercial edible food generator from which the service collects edible food.
The quantity in pounds of edible food collected from each commercial edible food generator per month.
The quantity in pounds of edible food transported to each food recovery organization per month.
The name, address, and contact information for each food recovery organization that the food recovery service transports edible food to for food recovery.
Food Recovery Organizations in the City are required to keep the following records:
The name, address, and contact information for each commercial edible food generator from which the organization receives edible food.
The quantity in pounds of edible food received from each commercial edible food generator per month.
The name, address, and contact information for each food recovery service that the organization receives edible food from for food recovery.
Food Recovery Organizations vs. Food Recovery Services
A Food Recovery Organization is an entity that engages in the collection or receipt of edible food from commercial edible food generators and distributes that edible food to the public for food recovery either directly or through other entities including, but not limited to a food bank, a nonprofit charitable organization, and a nonprofit charitable temporary food.
A Food Recovery Service means a person or entity that collects and transports edible food from a commercial edible food generator to a food recovery organization or other entities for food recovery.
Annual Reporting Requirements:
Food Recovery Organizations and Food Recovery Services are required to submit an annual report by March 1st to the City that includes the total pounds of edible food recovered in the previous calendar year. The City will provide a courtesy notification that includes submittal methods. The reports may also be emailed to the City at [email protected]
City’s Food Donation Directory
If your Food Recovery Organization or Service is interested in potentially partnering directly with Commercial Edible Food Generators, please be sure you are listed on the City’s Food Donation Directory, which lists organizations and services that provide food recovery to businesses in the City. If your organization or service is not on the list, please contact the City at [email protected].
How can I prevent food waste?
There are actions that businesses can take to prevent food waste and excess food from being generated. These actions, collectively known as Source Reduction, make up the highest priority tier on the Food Recovery Hierarchy.
The following are some examples of actions businesses can take to incorporate Source Reduction or food waste prevention practices into their operations:
Perform an assessment of surplus and wasted foods. This can be conducted as a weeklong study, or the business can conduct food waste tracking long term as part of daily business operations. Businesses may find certain foods are consistently over produced or go unsold. Food waste tracking will help managers understand sources of food waste and will help the business develop effective prevention or other management strategies. These strategies may also save the business money.
Create recipes and develop new ideas to extend the life of leftovers and unsold foods; remove unpopular items and revise recipes as warranted.
Develop competitive pricing to move excess product.
Sell foods at reduced prices to employees or clients and give them leftovers and unsold products.
How do I submit a complaint?
If you witness or suspect a commercial edible food generator, food recovery organization, or food recovery service, that is located within the City, is not complying with the edible food requirements as defined in the City’s Municipal Code, Section 62.12, or California Code of Regulations Title 14, Division 7, Chapter 12: Short-lived Climate Pollutants, then please submit a written complaint to the City.
Please email your written complaint to the City at [email protected]
Your name and contact information.
A description of the violation and any relevant information including business name, address or location of the violation.
Photographs or other documentary evidence.
The names and contacts of any witnesses, if applicable
The City will investigate all complaints received. If you submit a complaint with your identity and contact information, the City will provide you the results of the complaint when the investigation is complete.