Food Donor FAQ
How does keep austin fed work?
Our donors keep our volunteers busy by donating tons of food to transport to Keep Austin Fed (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. Some of our donors give us prepared food — cooked meals, salads, sandwiches, etc., which have extremely short shelf lives and 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 our volunteers to 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.
Donations must be in unopened packages and must not have been previously served. For catered events, we do not accept food in which guests served themselves and we require that donated food be kept at the proper temperature.
We do not accept home cooked meals or food that has been stored at a residence.
What type of food can be donated?
Keep Austin Fed can accept any perishable food items from commercial kitchens and retailers provided it meets the Federal requirements of being either “apparently wholesome food” or an “apparently fit grocery product". This means that it has been maintained at safe food temperatures, and is deemed to still be edible.
Once food has been plated or set out buffet style (for people to serve themselves), we cannot accept that food.
If food has clearly spoiled, been kept out of safe temperature controls, or would be deemed inedible by any sensible person, then this food does not qualify for food donation. We do not have any facilities or capacity to compost inedible food products, so our volunteers will leave it behind at the donor facility if it is not fit for consumption.
What about liability issues with the donated food?
State and federal legislation protects donors from liability when donating apparently wholesome food as long as safe food handling practices are observed. 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.
What days/hours can I donate food?
Generally speaking, our volunteers can pick up and distribute food between 7 am and 6 pm each day of the week. If you know that you are going to need a donation pick-up outside of these hours, please contact us in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org for special arrangements. Please note that we are sometimes limited by the availability of our recipient organizations to receive food at off hours and on weekends. If you have the ability to safely store the leftover food until morning, then that is often best.
How much notice do I need to give Keep Austin Fed to get a food pickup?
Our volunteers are regular people with regular lives (jobs, kids, families, appointments, etc.) that do food rescue as it fits into their schedule. We do not have a group of volunteers that are just sitting around waiting for a food donation call to come in. Because of this, the bigger window you can give us for pickup, the better. Sometimes, we can respond to requests right away, or within an hour. Other times, it may take a few hours. And, regrettably, there are times when we cannot find a volunteer to make the food run at all, and the food establishment must dispose of the food.
Who does the food go to?
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.
How do we 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 company's donation?
We don't a strict plan for recognizing the donations, 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.
I’m leaving town for a while (or moving) 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.
I had a party/event and have a bunch of food left over. Can Keep Austin Fed pick up this food?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept food that has been out of the control of a commercial food service establishment. If your event was catered, and the caterers would like to contact Keep Austin Fed to recover the surplus food, we can work with them, but we cannot pickup food from individuals.