Donating Produce to Food Banks and Food Rescue Organizations in Indiana – Vegetable Crops Hotline

Donating Produce to Food Banks and Food Rescue Organizations in Indiana

Many produce farmers donate food to various organizations around the area. At a time when food pantries are seeing high numbers of people coming for assistance with food insecurity, the fact that farmers can help out is wonderful. My goal is to give you more information so that donating is even easier. Let’s briefly start with understanding the difference between a food bank and a food pantry. Food banks are usually large organizations collecting food that they will distribute to food pantries, shelters, etc. They often have the ability to store great quantities of food. Food pantries are the individual sites where people can go to receive boxes/bags of food. Some food banks are also open to the public. Since food banks are larger, they offer purchasing power that is passed on to pantries.

So, if families are struggling to buy food, ideally, a visit to the food pantry results in them receiving nutritious food. This is where your produce comes into the story. Your produce can be picked up by some large Indiana organizations that have cold storage and trucks. Other organizations have access to volunteers who can glean a field. Either way, it is possible for excess produce (or things that didn’t meet size / cosmetic grades) to go home with people in need of healthy food. Visit Feeding America’s website to find food banks near you:

We have talked with Cultivate Food Rescue in South Bend, IN, who will be getting new cooling infrastructure. They are looking for more donors of nutritious, fresh food. They pick up 7 days per week and prefer pallets of produce, but can handle boxes also. They offer a range of trucking options to meet your needs and do everything possible to make the process seamless and easy for the donor. It is ideal if you can provide advance notice of 1-2 weeks, but they will do everything possible to work within your schedule. Feel free to reach out to Bob Hebert with Cultivate Food Rescue at (269) 479-9553 or For more information about Cultivate’s programs, you can also check out their website at

I realize that if you are a produce farmer reading this, you might be thinking about some of the possible downsides to this. “This will take extra time (and maybe labor)”. Yes, those are potential issues that you might run into. You may also worry about liability. Food donations are protected by federal law. In fact, protections were recently expanded under the Food Donation Improvement Act of 2022. The Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School provides a summary of these limited liability protections here: Additionally, the federal government recognizes the importance of food donation and provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to donate food. With this information now in your pocket, I leave the decision to you since you know what is best for your situation.

Written by Liz Maynard and Sarah Hanson (Purdue Extension) with contributions from employees of Cultivate Food Rescue.

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