FOOD RESCUE PLAN - A Step-by-Step Overview for Event Managers & Planners

NOTE 1:  A successful food rescue requires advance planning. This brief guideline will suggest checklist items to add to your planning process.

NOTE 2:  A food rescue plan is a “contingency plan”; there is always a chance that you will NOT have food left over to donate, so avoid disappointment by letting key stakeholders know this in advance.  
  • Event Manager or Planner indicates desire to stage a food rescue; include in the RFP
  • Negotiate contract clause that reflects agreement on what to do IF food is left over
  • Identify local charity, contact charity and determine game plan, IN CASE there is food left over (generally shelters/soup kitchens for prepared foods, food pantries/food banks for packaged foods)
  • Determine if charity has appropriate (e.g. refrigerated) truck or van and can pick up immediately after event OR secure alternate refrigeration/transportation arrangements
  • Identify/appoint a Food Rescue Coordinator (FRC).  Could be staff of planner, client, facility or charity
  • Invite FRC to appropriate planning and pre-convention meetings
  • Develop collection and logistics plan with FRC
    • Determine type/form of potential leftover food, if packaged, as in food show, if prepared, as in banqueting event, or if both, as in food festival, etc.  
    • Determine if boxes or aluminum pans/lids will be needed, estimate number and who will supply
    • Print up brightly-colored stickers for “Food Rescue” to be applied to boxes, pans, etc.
    • Determine if other equipment (e.g. Queen Mary, carts, pallets) is needed at venue to collect food
    • Secure permission from facility for food rescue team to circulate event (security, catering, loading dock) and to stage truck (if required) at/near loading dock, service entrance.
    • Plan communications with head chef/vendors/purveyors/other chefs advising procedure for leftovers, where they will go, who they will benefit, language on Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act
    • Please ensure that any necessary instructions/permissions are included in BEO
    • FRC plans volunteer needs and develops recruitment plan; can charity provide volunteers?
    • Plan for volunteers' presence at event:  i.e. parking, gathering point, dress requirements, credential requirements, name tags (suggest brightly-colored), meals or refreshments, if for an extended time
    • EXECUTE!!
Helpful Links:
  1. Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act and/or Other Legal Links that protect client & venue ( ; (
  2. How to locate food pantries in the area of your event (
  3. How to locate food banks in the area of your event (
  4. How to locate homeless shelters by zip code (
  5. Updated tax incentive information (