Businesses Urged to Donate Excess Food

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Solid Waste & Recycling (SW&R) Division

Businesses Urged to Donate Excess Food to Help Local Families in Need

Each year, 180,000 tons of food waste is landfilled from the Portland metro area. The Washington County Recycle at Work program, the Oregon Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul are encouraging area businesses to reduce unnecessary food waste by donating surplus, edible food to local food donation programs.

Donating food benefits businesses in several ways. According to the Oregon Food Bank, it helps reduce a business' waste and disposal costs, has an immediate impact on the local community, and brands the business as a partner in the fight to end hunger. Businesses donating food in good faith receive a federal tax deduction and are protected from potential liabilities thanks to federal and state Good Samaritan laws.

Hunger disproportionately impacts children, families and seniors. One-third of children in Oregon don't know where their next meal is coming from, and children make up 33 percent of all Oregon Food Bank Network emergency food recipients. In 2010, 29 percent of children in Oregon experienced food insecurity, the highest rate in the nation (national average is 23 percent).

From January through April 2012, Oregon Food Bank has seen the demand for emergency food boxes increase by 12 percent in the Portland metro area, yet food supply is not projected to increase at the same rate. Over the last several years, the need for emergency food in Washington County has increased rapidly as well. According to the Oregon Food Bank, in 2011, its partner agencies in Washington County distributed more than 80,000 emergency food boxes throughout the county, an increase of 16 percent over previous years.

Apart from public donations, the Oregon Food Bank receives food from other sources such as food industry growers, processors, grocery stores, retailers and distributors. Through the Fresh Alliance program, the Oregon Food Bank receives perishable items such as milk and other dairy products, meat and produce from grocery stores. 

To donate food, contact Amy Gillette at the Oregon Food Bank at 503-490-8972 or Staff will help connect you with a nearby agency that will pick up and recover food. You can also visit for more information. 

Businesses are also encouraged to participate in volunteer activities, such as food repacking, sorting, and gardening. For more information, visit

St. Vincent de Paul's RePack program is a network system in which over-produced food is collected from grocers, universities, hospitals, restaurants and major caterers for redistribution. 

St. Vincent de Paul provides partnering businesses and organizations with adequate containers for collection of surplus food. Businesses package the food and label the containers, and all food is kept frozen until it is redistributed to people in need. Upon pickup of the rescued food, full containers are swapped out for clean, empty ones. In 2011, 82,000 pounds of food was donated to the program for redistribution. 

To donate food, contact Bob Shields at St. Vincent de Paul at 503-234-1114 or For more information, visit

St. Vincent de Paul also needs volunteers to help with food storage, stocking, inventory and repackaging. Contact Anna Plaster at 503-234-5287 for information on volunteering.

Join the individuals, groups and businesses that are demonstrating tremendous generosity by donating food to the Oregon Food Bank network and St. Vincent de Paul. With the support of the business community, it is possible to reduce hunger in Washington County.

Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Dept. Communications Coordinator