Blog Post

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy ranks feeding hungry people near the top of its priorities as a strategy to reduce wasted food. When businesses and institutions donate edible wholesome food, it has a positive impact on the environment while also supporting the local community and economy.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has been collecting information on the amount of donated and rescued food in Massachusetts since 2014, when the statewide commercial organics disposal ban went into effect. From 2014 to 2017, the amount of donated and rescued food has increased from about 21,300 tons in 2014 to about 25,900 tons in 2017. This represents a 22% increase, or about 4,600 tons, and means that more than 50,000,000 pounds of food has been distributed to feed those in need.

Note:  These figure includes food banks in Massachusetts along with larger food rescue and donation organizations that operate on a regional scale, but does not include food donation that is done on a smaller community scale. Because food banks deliver a lot of food to local food pantries and shelters, much of that activity is already accounted for. 

Of particular note is the increase in fresh and perishable foods collected from businesses and institutions and delivered to agencies like soup kitchens and food pantries on the same day. Food rescue in Massachusetts increased by more than 60 percent from 2014 to 2017, which equates to 1,500 tons or 3,000,000 pounds. This increase is especially meaningful because of the valuable social and economic benefits that stem from fresh food donation

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts worked with state and local health officials, food rescue organizations, food banks, and industry professionals to develop Food Donation Guidance, designed to help businesses & institutions establish successful food donation programs. To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at