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A Guide for Farmers to Donate Food and Make a Difference in Their Communities

Updated: May 16

Farmers play a crucial role, in feeding the people in their local communities. Unfortunately, not all the produce makes it to the market to be purchased, and a significant portion may go to waste.


We're taking a closer look at some options for farmers to donate surplus or unwanted food and help their community, and the planet, at the same time. In this guide for farmers to donate food, we will explore the benefits of food donation, how to find local sites to donate to, how that helps your local community, and the benefits for you as a farmer and make a difference in their communities.


Feeding your community

Benefits of Donating Food:


We've all heard about kids going without food. Sometimes we may have been that kid or we know someone whose parent lost a job and was having trouble getting food for the family. Sometimes we hear about these cases as if they are a continent away, but they are closer to you than you might think.


Food insecurity and sustainability are important topics that impact the world daily. Farmers have the power to make a positive impact on both of those fronts by donating surplus produce, which goes towards reducing food waste and helping people in need. Over 40% of food is wasted in the US. Production losses are greatest for fresh produce.


There are many ways to make a positive impact by donating food in your local community but here are a few ways, specifically as a farmer, to donate surplus food.

  1. Reducing Food Waste: Every year, tons of perfectly good, nutritious food is thrown away because of a surplus supply. It could be because more was grown than needed or you have more than you could sell. By donating your surplus produce, you can significantly reduce food waste and contribute to a more sustainable food system and your community. It's a win-win.

  2. Help Alleviating Hunger: Food insecurity remains a critical issue in many communities. It seems like that wouldn't be the case today but as of January 2022, the USDA reported that about 10.5% of U.S. households were food insecure. Food insecurity refers to a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Farmers can provide fresh, locally grown produce to those in need, contributing to reducing part of that food insecurity and in many cases receive a tax benefit as well..

  3. Support and Build Community Connections: Food donation fosters a sense of community and goodwill. By sharing your harvest, you can strengthen ties with your local community, CSA members, businesses, and local organizations. You might even start a trend and help others do the same, creating a positive impact on the community as a whole.


The Details of Donating Food

As we've discussed donating food as a farmer can be a meaningful way to support your community and address food insecurity. Here are some steps you can take today to donate food:


Steps for Farmers to Donate Food:

  1. Identify Harvest Surplus: Identify produce or animal harvests (eggs, milk, meats, etc) that may not be suitable for sale but are still nutritious and edible. Consider factors such as size, appearance, safety, and market demand. Place these aside so they can be donated.

  2. Reach Out To Local Food Donation Organizations: Connect with local food banks, shelters, community centers, and non-profit organizations whose mission aligns with providing food to your local community. Establishing partnerships with these organizations ensures a smooth and efficient process for food donation. It's important to know about their specific needs, donation guidelines, and how they distribute donated food. Check out this link to find a local food bank in your area. Reach out to them and ask about their donation food drop-off locations. https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank

  3. Understand Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local and federal donation regulations regarding food donations. Many regions offer liability protections for food donations, making it easier for farmers to donate.

  4. Coordinate Harvest and Collection: Plan for an efficient harvest and collection process. Coordinate with volunteers, farm workers, or local organizations to help gather and transport excess harvests to donation food drop-off locations, designated recipients or non-profits.

  5. Promote Your Donations: Spread the word about your food donation efforts. You can tell your story through social media, local newspapers, newsletters, and local community bulletin boards to inform people about the opportunity to access fresh, locally-grown food. Not only does this get the word out to families in need but it also tells your customers that you are working to support your community. It might even be some good press for you and your farm to gain some new customers.

  6. Educate Other Farmers: Share your knowledge and experience with fellow farmers. You might even encourage them to join in the effort to donate surplus produce and help build a culture of giving within the agricultural community. You could coordinate food donations together.

  7. Tax Benefits for Donating Food: In many cases, you can get a tax write-off for food donations as charitable contributions for tax purposes. Farmers in many countries, including the United States, can receive tax benefits for donating food to qualified nonprofit organizations. The specific details and regulations may vary by jurisdiction, so please consult with a tax professional or an accountant familiar with local tax laws. Specific to the U.S., there are tax incentives for food donations through the enhanced tax deduction for charitable contributions of food inventory. This provision allows farmers to deduct the cost of producing the donated food, plus half the difference between the cost and the fair market value of the donated food. There are eligibility criteria and specific procedures that must be followed to qualify for these deductions. Farmers need to keep accurate records of their donated food, including details such as the type and quantity of food, the date of donation, and the recipient organization. But you can always use a farm management system, like Farmbrite, to keep track of your donated harvests. Proper documentation is crucial to substantiate the deduction claim during tax filings. Before making any decisions related to tax write-offs for food donations, farmers should seek advice from tax professionals to ensure compliance with local tax laws and regulations.

It goes without saying that farmers are the backbone of our food supply, and any contribution made to combating food waste and hunger is invaluable to our surrounding communities and the world. By taking steps to donate surplus produce, we can make a significant positive impact on your community, the environment, and families in need.


Thanks for reading and Happy Farming!


If you want to learn more about how Farmbrite's farm management software can help you keep track of your farm operation, give it a try free for 14 days.


Other places to find food donation locations:


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