One of the most impactful actions we can take as individuals to fight climate change is to reduce food waste. Globally, the United Nations estimates that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. At the same time, food loss and waste generates nearly eight percent of global greenhouse emissions. Source: EPA

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, California has enacted state law SB 1383, which required businesses and other commercial entities to donate edible food to feed hungry people. Instead unsold grocery store sandwiches molding in the compost bin, or perfectly edible fruits and vegetables going to a pig farm, these important resources are now diverted for their best and highest use: feeding hungry people.


To find out if your business is required to donate excess edible food under SB 1383, please visit our SB 1383 page.

Download a list of Food Recovery Organizations here

Do you have more produce than you can eat, for example, an over-abundant fruit tree? Invite a team of volunteers to glean on your property - not only will you be preventing food from going to waste, that food can also feed people who might be food-insecure! Gleaning means to harvest leftover or unwanted food from a tree, field, or farm. Please see below for locations and organizations that would be willing to accept food donations or send out a gleaning team.

A lot of food waste prevention and food recovery work is going on in Sonoma County right now. Please visit our SB 1383 page to learn more about the law, and refer to the resources below for information on edible food recovery.

Free food pick ups and software available

Businesses, schools, and other organizations with excess or surplus food are encouraged to donate food and feed people who may be food insecure. Zero Waste Sonoma (ZWS) and Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) are pleased to offer free food pick-up services through grants with CalRecycle and CalVolunteers. Please contact Kristen Sales and Kyle LaRue for more info and to sign up.

In addition, ZWS has purchased a license with Careit for a food donation software, which helps connect food donors with food recipient/distribution organizations. The software makes it easy for restaurants, grocery stores, schools, and other food donors to post surplus food, and nearby non-profit organizations are notified of the food available for pick up. Sign up to donate or receive food at

Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition (SCFRC)

The Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition (SCFRC) is a group of non-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals who are dedicated to creating a community where food is shared equitably and where there is a deeper understanding of the value of resources that go into producing our food.

SCFRC's vision for Sonoma County is to increase food recovery and reduce waste food for greater community connectedness and resilience. The SCFRC strives to reinvigorate the sharing ethic and strengthen community connections through:

  • Educating and fostering learning
  • Reducing wasted food
  • Increasing food recovery
  • Better nourishing our community
  • Our networking as a coalition

In all that we do, SCFRC seeks to embrace diversity and cultural differences in our networks and our opportunities to serve.

The Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition comes together as a network on a monthly basis to gain awareness of work we are doing in the community to advance increasing food recovery and reducing wasted food in Sonoma County. We share resources and information, and periodically come together to collaborate on joint projects/initiatives. Regular attendance at our monthly meetings is important, as well as actively engaging in group dialogue and sharing. Each member represents their individual and agency goals and advocates for those, while listening openly to others' input and ideas. We honor cultural differences in the work that we do.

Zero Waste Sonoma is a proud member of the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition.

Why Donate?

1. Reinvigorate the Sharing Ethic

Sharing local food resources strengthens community resilience in times of disaster. Before you throw something out, think about how your neighbors might want or need that food!

2. Prevent Waste

Forty percent of food produced in the United States goes uneaten -- that's at least 62.5 million tons of wasted food every year. In California, we are wasting about 5.6 million tons of food every year. This accounts for edible food from farm to fork, including the food that's left on the farm post-harvesting and packing, to food lost from manufacturers or processing, distribution, all the way to retail and food service, and at the household level as well.

In Sonoma County, food represents nearly 33% of a single-family residential waste stream. (see 2022 Waste Characterization Study) Nearly all wasted food can be either donated, composted or otherwise diverted from the landfill. For tips on how to compost your food scraps at home, see our Resources Page.

3. It's The Law!

California has passed legislation to prevent organic waste from going to landfill. Diverting wasted food from landfills not only conserves limited landfill space, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In landfills, organic materials like food scraps and yard trimmings are broken down by bacteria to produce methane. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is shown to have a warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide, significantly contributing to global climate change.

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (AB 1826)

  • Requires businesses that generate specified amounts of organics waste to arrange for organic waste recycling services.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Reduction Act (SB 1383)

  • Requires a 20% reduction of edible food waste by 2050
  • Requires a 40% reduction in methane levels by 2030

Information for Businesses

Is It Legal to Donate?

Yes! Federal and state civil criminal liability protections are in place for food donors and non-profit organizations that receive and distribute food donations to those in need.

California Good Samaritan Act (AB 1219) (2017)

  • Food can be donated to an individual or gleaning organization
  • Specific liability protection applies to the donation of food that is fit for human consumption that has exceeded the labeled shelf life date
  • Authorizes permitted food donors to engage in direct donation

California Code Section 114433

  • "Criminal liability - No FOOD FACILITY that donates FOOD as permitted by Section 114432 shall be subjected to civil or criminal liability or penalty for violation of any LAWs, regulations, or ordinances regulating the labeling or packaging of the donated product or, with respect to any other LAWs, regulations, or ordinances, for a violation occurring after the time of donation."

Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996)

  • Food must be donated to a nonprofit
  • Food must meet all federal, state, and local quality and labeling requirements; if it does not, the food must be reconditioned to meet all requirements
  • The receiving nonprofit organization must distribute it to needy individuals
  • Needy individuals receiving the food may not pay for it, however, if one nonprofit donates food to another nonprofit for distribution, the Act allows the first nonprofit to charge the distributing nonprofit a nominal fee to cover handling and processing costs

Food Donation Improvement Act (2023)

Improves and expands on the liability protections from the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996):

  1. Liability protections now cover qualified direct donors (e.g., schools, restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, farmers) who donate good food directly to individuals or groups other than nonprofits. Previously, liability protections were only afforded to qualified donors if they donated the food to a 501(c)(3) organization.
  2. Liability protections now cover nonprofit organizations and others that provide donated food products at a low price (an amount that covers the cost of handling, administering, and distributing the food). This means that food pantries and other food distribution sites have the option to charge a small amount of money for food to help cover their operational costs.
  3. Learn more and download resources from NRDC.

Are there Tax Incentives?

Business donors are eligible for an enhanced tax deduction for donations that meet certain criteria.

Tax Deduction Criteria:

  • The recipient food recovery organization or donee must be an IRC 501(c)(3) organization and a public charity or private operating foundation.
  • The donee must give the donated food solely to the ill, the needy, or infants.
  • The donee may not use or transfer the food in exchange for money, other property, or services.
  • The donee must provide a written statement to the donor stating that all requirements of IRC 170(e)(3) have been met.
  • The donated food must be in compliance with the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and California Health and Safety Code (CHSC).
  • Learn more and download resources from NRDC.

Information for Households

What do the Dates on Products Mean?

Food date labels are an attempt to indicate quality, not safety. In fact, there are no federal regulations for date labeling for products other than infant formula.

  • A "Sell-By" tells the store how long to display the product for sale
  • A "Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or food safety date.
  • A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

How Can I Reduce Food Waste at Home?

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food each year, and for the average American family, that can be up to $2,200 per household. Click on the following links to learn how to reduce food waste in your household and keep it out of the landfill!

  1. Plan Well - Tips for reducing food waste from Save The Food
  2. Store Well - Information on proper food storage from Save The Food
  3. Eat Well - Recipes for reducing food waste from Save The Food
  4. Preserve Well - Recipes & preservation tips from the UC Master Food Preservers
  5. Compost Well at home - Composting basics from the UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County
  6. Compost Well at the curb - Information about what you can & can't put in your green bin

Can I donate food from my garden?

Yes, households are allowed to donate their fruits and vegetables to food recovery organizations. Donors are protected by the California Good Samaritan Act (AB 1219) (2017). For more information on gleaning, please see blow.

Summer Produce Exchange

Help share the bounty of your summer vegetable garden with your community by hosting a Summer Produce Exchange. Any produce left at the end of the Exchange can be picked up by Farm to Pantry and delivered to a food distribution organization to help our community members in need. For Produce Exchanges held in Southern Sonoma County, reach out to Petaluma Bounty for pick up. For information on how to start an Exchange, see "Download Resources" below.

With a resurgence of home and community gardening, it may be time to think about a summer produce exchange. The Sebastopol Grange started a successful event which is held twice a month in 2019. People bring their surplus home grown vegetables, fruit, and plant starts at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, sharing with one another. Forty-five minutes later, Dena Allen, co-host, begins rounding up what’s left to take to the local interchurch pantry.

Now the Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition is looking for other sites, especially community gardens, which might host a swap. While the emphasis is on building supportive neighborly connections among home food growers, extra produce again can be gathered and delivered to a local food pantry. Or a local gleaning or food rescue group can be engaged to pick up and deliver what’s left at the end of the event. Click here to see a Fall 2021 article on the Sebastopol Produce Exchange.


The following resources are provided in the English and Spanish language. Click on the image to download the file.

To learn more about gleaning and food recovery work in Sonoma County, please view this video produced by Civil Eats

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Location pin Conservation Corps North Bay

3555 Airway Dr
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

NotesPickup: food (all kinds). Please call first

Location pin Farm to Pantry

NotesPickup: whole produce and non-prepared foods only. Coordinates gleaning at farms, home gardens, and backyard trees in northern Sonoma County.

Location pin Food for Thought

6550 Railroad Ave
Forestville, CA 95436

NotesDrop-off: whole/cut produce, meat, dairy, deli foods, bread, and commercially prepared foods still in their original packaging & other commercially prepared foods. No expired foods.

Location pin Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)

18330 Sonoma Hwy
Sonoma, CA 95476

NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce; call first.

Location pin Petaluma Bounty

NotesPickup: coordinates gleaning services in southern Sonoma County.

Location pin Redwood Empire Food Bank

3990 Brickway Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce. See website for instructions.

Location pin Redwood Gospel Mission Food Recovery

101 6th St
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

NotesDrop-off: canned goods, dried goods and produce; call first.

Location pin Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition (SCFRC)

NotesDatabase of local food recovery and distribution resources. The Food Distribution Directory connects people with opportunities to donate perishable food to people in need.

Location pin Sonoma County Gleaners

Healdsburg, CA

NotesPromoting a Zero Waste Sonoma County, Sonoma County Gleaners harvest surplus produce and donate it to our neighbors in need.

Contact Sonoma County Gleaners for more information

Location pin SONOMA Food Runners

E Jasmine Cir
Santa Rosa, CA 95407

NotesPickup: food (all kinds) from events, farms, food producers, grocers, caterers, farmers' markets and restaurants to feed local hungry people. Tax receipts issued upon request.

Location pin St. Vincent de Paul of Sonoma County Food Donation

610 Wilson St (entrance on 7th)
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

NotesDrop-off: fresh food, dried and canned goods; call first.