Food Rescue

Food rescue refers to any food enterprise including groceries, restaurants, caterers, farms and farmer’s markets that that donates and redirects food to people in need before it is discarded into landfills. Fortunately, there are many great efforts to recover food in Montgomery County.

target team members april 30thLarge groceries and food businesses including Giant, Safeway, Whole Foods, Starbucks, as well as smaller independent grocers have well established donation programs.

Licensed food providers of all types including restaurants and caterers donate their unsold food to food assistance organizations, like Shepherd’s Table, Interfaith Works, Mont. Co. Coalition for the Homeless and others that serve hot meals.

Campus Kitchens and Food Recovery Network tap into University leftovers.

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In recent years, farmers have donated their surplus, locally-grown vegetables and fruits in abundance, making healthier food available to those who are food insecure.

Manna Food Center, the largest food recovery organization in Montgomery County aggregates and redistributes about 4 million lbs. of unused food to 40,000 residents annually.

Recipient organizations like Shepherd’s Table, Interfaith Works, Rainbow Community Development Center and Gaithersburg HELP, distribute this food.


In addition, there are many other community-based organizations such as  faith-based food pantries that distribute food to those in need.

But there is much more food that could be rescued.

Think about caterers, restaurants, hotels, country clubs, colleges and universities, hospitals, and food vendors whose prepared foods are currently thrown out at days end. While grocers generously donate canned and boxed goods, they are less likely to donate produce, meat, and dairy for fear of food safety concerns, even though the Federal Good Samaritan Act offers legal protections.


Community Food Rescue’s first priority is to redirect unused food to people. Priority is given to increase the donation and recovery of nutritious food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.  To ensure that as little food waste as possible is entering the waste stream, food ill-suited for human consumption will be redirected to feed animals and any remaining food scraps will be directed to composting efforts to enrich Montgomery County soil.

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