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  • Donate Food Safely

    Graphic of a box of food donations being handed to another person.

    Feed your friends and neighbors safely.

    Do you want to help feed people in need? Here’s how you can safely help in the community.

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    Food you can share without registering as a food bank or pantry:

    • Whole, uncut produce.
    • Dry goods.
    • Canned goods.
    • Commercially packaged food that does not need refrigeration.

    You need to be a registered food bank or pantry if you:

    • Cut or prepare produce.
    • Unpackage ready-to-eat food.
    • Need to keep food hot or cold.
    • Cook or heat food.

    You can work with existing organizations.

    • Volunteer at a food bank or pantry.
    • Ask your local food bank or pantry what they need and what kind of food you can donate.
    • Organize a food drive for a local food bank or pantry.
    • Reach out to schools and ask to donate food or volunteer your time.

    Or you can create your own food bank or pantry.

    Registration is free, but food banks and pantries need to apply to become a nonprofit organization. Nonprofit means the IRS approves you to be a tax-exempt, charitable nonprofit organization.

    Food bank and food pantry or Donated Food Distributing Organization (DFDO) rules:

    • Follow food safety guidelines for Washington State. Like cold holding, handwashing, bare hand contact, etc.
    • All food must be donated to people in need.
    • Food that needs refrigeration must be made in a donor kitchen—like a restaurant, church, school kitchen, etc.—and not a residential home.
    • Must distribute prepared food within 8 hours of preparation.
    • You can accept or give out:
      • Extra from food establishments.
      • Commercially packaged and frozen food.
      • Food properly handled, stored and prepared in a donor kitchen.
      • Food that doesn’t need temperature control— like uncooked rice, canned soup and boxed cereal.
      • Baked goods that don’t require temperature control and are handled/stored/prepared in a residential home.
    • You cannot accept or give out:
      • Home canned food.
      • Canned food in rusty or severely damaged containers.
      • Expired infant formula.
      • Distressed foods—like from a fire, flood, or prolonged storage.


    Report concerns.

    Help us fight outbreaks by reporting a food illness or concern.