Food Runners

Thank you for helping to transport food from food donors to hunger relief organizations! Here’s what you need to know to handle and transport food safely:

Watch this short video on CFR Safe Food Handling Practices for Food Runners

Summary of Safe Food Handling Guidelines for Food Runners

Food Runner Personal Hygiene

  • If sick, do not recover food.
  • Wear, long pants, clean clothes, and closed-toed non-slip shoes.
  • Do not wear excessive jewelry (watch and wedding band are ok).
  • Pull long hair up and/or wear a hat/hairnet.
  • Wear a waterproof bandage if you have a cut.
  • Wash hands and exposed arms up to your elbows with warm water and soap before handling food.
  • Wash hands again if you do any of the following: use the restroom, smoke, touch your hair, face, clothes or body, handle raw meat or eggs, eat or drink or use cleaning chemicals.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum while on a food run.

Vehicle Preparation

  • Protect food from contamination from sources such as chemicals, staples, insects, water drippage, dirty equipment, etc.
  • Keep your vehicle clean of excessive dirt, insects, animals, and any other potential contaminants while transporting food. It is a good idea to have a sheet, tarp or carry-all container that you lay in trunk or back seat before transporting any donated food.
A food runner brings a donation to Shepherd's Table in his car.
A food runner brings a donation to Shepherd’s Table in his car.


As a food runner, you may be provided with a CFR Food Runner toolkit from the organization receiving donated food if you are receiving time and temperature controlled food (TCS) and require these items for transporting food safely. This toolkit will likely contain:

  • An insulated bag for maintaining the temperature of cold or hot food. Remember that cold and hot food should be packaged separately.
  • Ice packs for use in maintaining the temperature of chilled or frozen foods
  • A thermometer for taking the temperature (when applicable) of donated food if/when the donor is not available to take and document the temperature him/herself.
  • Alcohol swabs to sanitize the thermometer before and after use.
  • Gloves to use when coming into contact with foods that are not pre-packaged (i.e. whole vegetables and fruits and loose bakery items)
  • A copy of the CFR Food Safety Guidelines for your reference
  • A copy of the CFR Food Donation Tracking Form (see details below)

The toolkit should be returned to the recipient organization at the end of each food run unless both parties have agreed to an alternative arrangement. Or you may want to invest in an instant read thermometer and alcohol swabs if you pick up prepared food.

Click HERE for food runner resources including a complete list of what you need to take on a food run based on the type of food you transport.

A food runner carries an insulated bag for cold food and a form to track this food donation's time and temperature.
A food runner carries an insulated bag for cold food and a form to track this food donation’s time and temperature.

Picking up Food

Use the CFR Food Safety Guidelines for reference. Refer to the kinds of foods that are suitable and unsuitable for donation. Refer to the types of food that require time and temperature control. Refer to Time and Temperature Controls about how to record this information on the CFR Food Donation Tracking Form.

If when picking up food from a food donor, you suspect that the food is not safe, accept the food and alert the recipient organization and the CFR administrator–  so they can follow up with the donor.

CFR Food Donation Tracking Form

The purpose of the CFR Food Donation Tracking Form is to ensure that all proper food safety guidelines are followed during the food donation process. Click on the link and print a hard copy to take with you on each food run. The food runner must record the types of foods being donated. For time and temperature controlled foods, record the time food was picked up at the donor site, the temperature of the food at the time of pickup, and the time that food was delivered to the recipient organization. The donor, food runner, and recipient organization must sign the form. The completed form is left with the recipient organization and retained for their records.

If you have further questions about transporting food safely, please contact: Jenna Umbriac, Director of Nutrition Programs, at Manna Food Center;

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