Food Suitable for Donation

The  following types of foods are suitable for donation. Each type includes required packaging instructions and whether it needs time and temperature control.

Grocery (dry goods, non-perishables)

Commercially canned, boxed, and otherwise packaged foods such as soups, stews, fruits, vegetables, tuna, peanut butter, sauces, and meals like pasta, rice, macaroni and cheese, etc.

Required packagingFoods must be in their intact, original packaging.

Non-perishable items do not require time/temperature control.

Bulk foods

Items that come in volumes or portions larger than those ordinarily considered to be for immediate consumption and may need to be broken down into smaller portions for distribution such as rice, beans, oatmeal, flour, etc.

Required packaging:  Foods must be in their intact, original packaging.

Bulk foods can only be repackaged in a licensed facility and all smaller portions must be packaged in sanitized or new food grade containers and labeled with: (1) food item including brand name, (2) ingredients, (3) date of repack, (4) distributor of original product, e.g. name of grocery store). 

Bakery items

Products such as breads, bagels, cakes, muffins, rolls, etc. that are prepared at a commercial baking establishment and have not been served to the public.

Required PackagingBag or carton, securely closed with no rips or tears.

Bakery items do not require time/temperature control. Exceptions include items filled with perishable foods, e.g. custards or meats.

Produce 

Any type of whole fruit or vegetable that is fresh (packaged or loose) — Food donations may include fresh produce, including home-grown fruits and vegetables

Required PackagingPacked in clean bags, boxes, or bins

Whole (uncut, unpeeled) fruit and vegetables do not require time/temperature control.

Adrian @ Coastal Sunbelt shrink wrapping bananas for donation. Courtesy of Rainbow CDC.
Adrian @ Coastal Sunbelt shrink wrapping bananas for donation. Courtesy of Rainbow CDC.

Frozen grocery store or factory prepared foods

Any type of commercially packaged frozen food such as peas, berries, ravioli, waffles, etc.

Required packaging:  Foods must be in their intact, original packaging.  

Frozen products must be maintained at a temperature of 0˚F or below. See section entitled, “Time and Temperature Control of Perishable Foods”.

Dairy products 

Commercially packaged milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, eggs and egg products, etc.

Required packaging:  Foods must be in their intact, original packaging.

Dairy products must be maintained at a temperature of 41 °F or below. See section entitled, “Time and Temperature Control of Perishable Foods”.

Rainbow CDC receives dairy donation.
Rainbow CDC receives dairy donation.

Pre-packaged food

Such as salads, entrees prepared in commercial facility and require refrigeration.

Required packaging:  Foods must be in their intact, original packaging.

Cold prepackaged products must be maintained at a temperature of 41˚F or below. See section entitled, “Time and Temperature Control of Perishable Foods”.

Fresh meat (including seafood)

Beef, poultry, pork, seafood (excluding live shellfish) and processed items such as sausage or lunch meat that have undergone USDA inspection and approval.

Fresh meat and seafood must be maintained at a temperature of 41˚F or below.

Required PackagingFoods must be in their intact, original packaging.  Raw meat must be transported in a separate container from other donated food items.

Fresh meat/seafood must be maintained at a temperature of 41˚F or below. See section entitled, “Time and Temperature Control of Perishable Foods”.

Game meat

Deer meat may only may be donated if approved by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  A meat cutter approved by the state health agency must process the game meat. The meat needs to be labeled: “Uninspected wild game meat, thoroughly cook to a minimum 165°F internal temperature.”

Livestock, poultry, or rabbits may be donated alive if raised by a member of an approved youth club, such as 4H. All livestock must be processed under USDA authority. A meat cutter approved by the Maryland Department of Agriculture must process the livestock, poultry, or rabbit meat. The meat needs to be labeled with: (1) Name and address of producer, (2) identity of product, (3) Maryland issued number, (4) net weight, (5) “Exempt PL-90-492”, (6) Date of Slaughter and the statement (7) “thoroughly cook to a minimum 165°F internal temperature.”

Prepared food

Any type of prepared entrée such as grilled chicken, lasagna, pasta, salad, rice or soup that has been prepared at a commercial food service establishment such as a restaurant, cafeteria, or catered event but has not been served or offered to the public.  Note: Foods prepared in a home kitchen may not be donated. Bread and unwrapped butter pats that have been served to a table but not eaten may not be donated.

Required packaging:  Securely sealed, food grade packaging.  Cold and hot items packed separately and held at the proper temperature. Sandwiches wrapped in clear plastic, wrap or foil.

Proper packaging for prepared foods.
Proper packaging for prepared foods.

Cold prepared products must be maintained at a temperature of 41˚F or below. Hot prepared products must be maintained at a temperature of 135˚F or above. See section entitled, “Controlling Temperature and Time out of Temperature Controls”.

Donated prepared food should be labeled with (1) the name of the food, (2) ingredients (in descending order of quantity) (3) date prepared, (4) “use by” dates, (5) storage temperature, (6)Instructions to “Reheat quickly to internal temperature of 165˚F or above”, (7) donor name and contact information.

Ingredient lists must indicate whether the food contains any of the following major allergens or derivatives of the following major allergens:

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • tree nuts
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • soybeans

Sample label:

Product name: Meat Sauce
Date prepared: 1/20/15
Use by: 1/22/15
Safe Storage Temperature: Keep refrigerated at 40˚F or below.
Reheating/Serving Information: Reheat quickly to internal temperature of 165˚F or above.
Donated by: Zio’s Trattoria, ph: 301-123-4567

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