donateNYC: Web Tool Matches Businesses with Food to Nonprofits in Need

The new donateNYC food tool aims to reduce the large amounts of edible food sent to landfills every year and redirect excess edible food to New Yorkers in need.

Waste360 Staff, Staff

April 1, 2019

4 Min Read
donateNYC: Web Tool Matches Businesses with Food to Nonprofits in Need

The City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced the launch of the “food” donation section of the donateNYC website. The new website tool matches businesses with extra food to groups that feed hungry New Yorkers, with an eye toward hyperlocal donations.

The new donateNYC food tool aims to reduce the large amounts of edible food sent to landfills every year, redirect excess edible food to New Yorkers in need and help fill the meal gap not yet met by existing food donations.

“Thanks to legislation championed by Council Member Rafael Espinal, we worked to develop what has become the donateNYC food portal,” said Acting DSNY Commissioner Steven Costas in a statement. “Our shared goal, reducing the amount of edible food sent to landfills by businesses, is good for businesses, our communities and our environment. It’s a win-win-win. We hope this tool will enable not only single donations but facilitate long-term relationships between businesses and nonprofits who have the ability to feed many, many people.”

All safe, pre-consumer food is eligible for donation, including packaged, prepared or bulk foods, such as:

  • Whole, cut, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables

  • Cooked or dry grains, rice and pasta

  • Meat or dairy

  • Meat and dairy alternatives

  • Prepared meals or side dishes

  • Baby food

  • Pet food (to be distributed to people in need with pets)

Food that is clearly unsuitable for consumption, is from residential sources or includes any controlled or illegal substances, along with food held or transported outside of food safe temperatures, is not eligible for donation and will not be able to be listed in the portal.

Food waste has always been a problem, but it is particularly galling when over 1.2 million New Yorkers go hungry each year,” said Espinal in a statement. “The new donateNYC food portal is going to help significantly reduce this disparaging gap by connecting excess inventory of food establishments and groceries to nonprofits serving those who struggle to put food on the table. I am proud to have been a part of this process and am grateful for the Department of Sanitation's partnership in this process.”

To participate, both potential donors and receivers must first register for an account at Groups with available food post a donation listing, specifying the type and amount of food, its packaging and delivery requirements, as well as a pickup/delivery time. A proprietary algorithm matches donations to possible recipients, first by their required criteria (food type, quantity, storage requirements) and then by distance, starting with the closest organization first. Recipients are notified when a donation matches their criteria, and they have a limited amount of time to accept before the algorithm matches a second possible recipient.

Once matched, donors and recipients can message one another to confirm a delivery/pickup time. Upon confirmation of a successful donation, donors will receive automatically generated tax receipts. Additionally, after the donation is complete, donors and recipients must rate the transaction in order to assure quality and compliance with the User Agreement.

To ensure the integrity of the portal, users and donation listings are monitored and approved by DSNY staff.

Donors are asked to maintain the safety standards of their donations in storage, packaging and transit. Recipients should monitor deliveries for food safety and match to donation description. donateNYC staff will provide resource guides for best practices and more information on the city’s food safety guidelines. Food donors are protected by Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996.

“The site is great and will really add to the food rescue movement to get more businesses donating their excess food instead of throwing it away,” said Robert Lee, co-founder and CEO of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and early registrant on the food portal, in a statement. “It will be useful for identifying potential new food donors and partners to donate food to, and it will raise the visibility of our own organization for food donors.”

While the website portal is now active, a mobile app for iOS and Android will follow. The food portal is available to only businesses. Residents wishing to donate their excess food may visit the donateNYC directory at

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