Food Donation 

How to Support Food Donation in the San Diego Region

Donate excess edible food at your local food bank: 

Learn how to safely donate food:

Harvesting Excess Produce for Food Donation -- Gleaning

Infographic on residential gleaning opportunities

Gleaning, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers' markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need. Learn more with the USDA’s gleaning toolkit.

Gleaning organizations:

  • Rely on volunteers and donated funds to run their operations.
  • Partner with local growers, residents with fruit trees, or other food donors, to harvest or collect their excess produce for free.
  • Take collected food to a food bank or pantry.


  • Provide an important service to donors who may not have the means (e.g. labor and transportation) or the established relationship with a food bank or pantry to donate their excess produce.
  • Divert edible produce from being wasted while also helping provide nutritious produce to food insecure San Diego county residents. 

Learn more on our Resources page about how gleaning reduces wasted food and visit the San Diego Food System Alliance Gleaning in San Diego County for ways to get involved. 

What is Food Security? 

Food security is the ability of all people at all times to access enough food for an active and healthy life. Learn more with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Food insecurity is when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life. Learn more with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Food Assistance Programs

Food assistance programs are provided through different delivery mechanisms including: community food distributions provided by food banks and pantries; WIC and CalFresh monthly benefits to be spent on groceries; free and reduced-price school meals; and meals provided through other locally administered programs, which are served at locations in the community or home-delivered for older adults.

County Efforts in Reducing Food Insecurity and Wasted Food

The Food Donation Action Plan for the San Diego Region was developed in 2018 to improve food donation, help address food insecurity, and reduce wasted food in the region. The County recently developed the Progress Update, Fall 2020.

Cover page of report


Progress Update, Fall 2020 (available in English and Spanish) provides statistics and information on efforts taken in support of the Food Donation Action Plan, as well as steps to move forward to further support the regional food system.

El “Informe sobre Avances, Otoño 2020” incluye estadísticas e información sobre los esfuerzos realizados en apoyo al Plan de Acción para la Donación de Alimentos, así como las medidas que respalden el sistema alimentario regional.

Addressing Wasted Food to Reduce Climate Change Impacts

Recovering edible and nutritious food and donating to food insecure individuals provides a solution to increasing food security in the San Diego region, as well as preventing food from entering and decomposing in landfills which creates methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Learn more about diverting solid waste with the County of San Diego's Climate Action Plan Solid Waste sector.