Food Recovery

How to Recover Food from Your Campus Event

If you have hosted a meeting or an event with excess food, there are two options to ensure the food does not go to waste:

For Partially Served/Buffet Food

If the food has been already partially served or was on a buffet, you should not bring it to the pantry. You can, however, open up to the community around you as long as it has been at room temperature for under 2 hours (between 41 and 135˚F). We recommend bringing the food to a more public space and identifying a lead to keep track of time and clean up. Invite nearby staff and students to partake up until the 2 hour mark, at which point the food is no longer safe to serve and should be refrigerated or thrown out.

For Unserved or Packaged Food

The Food Pantry can receive prepared or packaged food that meets the following food safety requirements:

  • Temperature Control: food stored at proper temperatures (under 41˚F or over 135˚F) and has been at room temperature (between 41 and 135˚F) for no more than 2 hours.

  • Transit time: The food is in transit for no more than 30 minutes.

  • Preparation: Food that has been partially served or on a buffet can not be recovered in this process. Food that has been stored and wrapped and not put out can be recovered.

  • Dietary restrictions: food is labeled with any known common allergens (gluten, nuts, etc.) and is labeled if it is vegan, vegetarian or contains meat.

  • Labeling: please let us know where the food is coming from and when it was produced.

How to donate food:

  • Drop off food during Pantry open hours. Provide full details to the volunteer on duty; state who you are, where the food is from, when it was prepared, and how long it has been at room temperature. It will then get weighed and refrigerated.
  • Location: MLK Student Union # 68, B-North (enter on Lower Sproul, across from Cesar Chavez and down the stairs/elevator).
  • Hours (last updated Spring 2020): Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10AM – 7PM; Tuesday and Friday: 11.30AM – 7PM; Saturday and Sunday: 10AM – 2PM.

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 exempts those who make donations of food and grocery products in good faith to nonprofit organizations (including UC Berkeley) that feed people who are hungry from liability for injuries arising from the consumption of donated food.

Contact the Basic Needs Food Manager at for support with logistics and food recovery laws. Or contact Patrick Kaulback at for any food safety concerns.