How does Keep Austin Fed work?
Our donors keep our volunteers busy by donating tons of food we transport to KAF recipients. There is no cost to donors or KAF recipients – we provide equipment, training, and support while volunteers donate their time and use their own vehicles. It’s a lot of work, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We keep good food out of the landfill, and make sure we get healthy meals to our neighbors in need.
We specialize in “just-in-time” surplus food pickup and delivery, and most of our donors give us prepared food — cooked meals, salads, sandwiches, etc., which have extremely short shelf lives; the food can be either hot or cold. For that reason, a quick response time and safe food handling is critical. That’s why we require volunteers have a food handler’s permit.
Some donors offer whole foods, such as crates of fresh produce, frozen uncooked meat, and bulk bagged salads. Others give us nonperishable foods. Still others donate a mix of all the above. Our volunteers also occasionally handle other items like health care products.
Donations must be in unopened packages or must not have been previously served. For catered events, we do not accept food in which guests served themselves and we require donated food be kept at the proper temperature. We also do not accept home cooked meals or food that has been stored at a residence.
What about liability?
State and federal legislation protects donors from liability when donating apparently wholesome food as long as safe food handling practices are observed. Read more about food donation laws on our website. The same thing applies to our volunteers. Our recipients are required to screen the food they receive before passing it on to their clients.
How do I donate food?
Food donation works two ways: scheduled and on-call donations.
With scheduled donations, a donor would be put into our schedule on a regular interval. Some of our donors require daily pickups, while others only donate once or twice a month. We’ll do whatever makes sense. The advantage of scheduled donations is that we can better plan for coverage and help our recipients better manage their food supply.
Some donors prefer on-call donations in which they simple let us know when they have food to donate. The advantage here is that it gives donors more flexibility. That works great for catered events or stores with lower volume surplus. Your staff would simply call the KAF Hotline at 512-831-3654 and choose option 1. If an operator doesn’t answer, simply leave a message with the details (type of food, quantity of food, pickup window, etc.). Another option is to fill out our online food donation form. Either way, we’ll get a volunteer out as soon as possible. For on-call donations, we often have someone on site in about an hour, but occasionally a volunteer isn’t available until the following day. For that reason, it’s important to give us as much time as possible.
Who gets the food?
We choose where to deliver the food based on proximity to your location, recipient need, and, to a certain degree, volunteer preference. Scheduled donations tend to have the same drop off location while drop sites for on-call donations may vary. See a list of some KAF recipients.
What do I need to get started?
It takes an average of 2 weeks to bring a new donor on board. During that time, we figure out how best to handle the food, recruit volunteers, and find an appropriate drop-off site. We sometimes provide such equipment as insulated bags or plastic totes to make the donation easier and ensure safe food handling, but donors often provide containers, such as catering trays, plastic bags, or to-go boxes. We can support your staff’s efforts to donate food with a KAF Cheat Sheet detailing what to do and who to call, if needed.
How do you recognize my donation?
We haven’t worked out a strict plan for recognizing the donations online, but we try to regularly post about our awesome supporters. KAF currently doesn’t provide any documentation to donors about the quantity of food donated. We rely instead on each store tracking their own donations. We can provide an in-kind donation letter at your request for your company’s use during tax time.
We know your staff has put a lot of time and effort into preparing an amazing product and our goal is to honor that donation by sharing healthy nutrition with our neighbors in need. Please let me know if you have any questions and thanks so much for considering to help Keep Austin Fed.
I’m leaving town for a while and would like to donate the extra food in my fridge before I go. What do you suggest?
We recommend sharing it with your neighbors or friends. Health code regulations state food prepared or stored in a residence is not fit for donation because there is no regulation or paper trail for determining how the food was handled. It’s one of the many ways surplus food falls through the cracks.