Food Rescue

Food Rescue for our Community

San Luis Obispo County is a region of agricultural abundance, yet not everyone has consistent access to nutritious food. On top of that, plenty of perfectly edible, safe, and healthful food is sent to landfills each day. To reduce waste and alleviate hunger, the SLO Food Bank manages two food rescue programs: GleanSLO, a fresh produce rescue program working with local farms and community residents, as well as a Grocery Rescue Program, rescuing directly from markets and connecting charitable agencies with near-date food from grocery chains and local markets.



About GleanSLO

SLO Food Bank’s GleanSLO program rescues fresh produce that would have gone to waste from local farms, orchards, backyards, and farmers’ markets.

Then, the food is distributed through SLO Food Bank’s network of nonprofit agency partners and direct distributions across SLO County. Neighbors in need receive access to locally grown produce and specific items we don’t often purchase in bulk, like blueberries, persimmons, and blood oranges.

Additionally, we’re minimizing organic waste, which makes up more than a third of California’s waste stream and emits greenhouse gas affecting our air quality and climate.

How GleanSLO Works

Whether you donate crops, volunteer, or give a monetary donation to GleanSLO, you are helping to alleviate hunger in SLO County.


If you are a commercial grower or private homeowner with fruit trees, bushes, or fields that are producing more than you can harvest, our Food Rescue team can help! Donations are tax-deductible.


Our Food Rescue team will organize a harvest to gather the fresh produce. Volunteers sign up for gleans online and sign a liability waiver that protects farmers and homeowners.


We take the rescued produce back to our warehouse and distribute it to neighbors in need through the SLO Food Bank’s distribution programs and hunger relief network.

Volunteer with GleanSLO

A typical glean lasts two hours and all equipment and training is provided. Check out the Volunteer FAQ section for our age policy, safety tips, and more!


Whether you’re joining us for a scheduled harvest, or interested in other opportunities, your gleaning journey starts with volunteer registration.


Registered to volunteer and ready to start gleaning? Check out our Harvest Calendar for current opportunities, updated every Friday.


Upon registration for a specific glean, you’ll receive an email with directions and other pertinent details. You can also find this information in your volunteer toolbox.

More Volunteer Opportunities

The volunteer roles below offer more engagement with regularly recurring events and independent volunteer opportunities. For information on how to participate, please contact the Food Rescue & Glean Coordinator at [email protected].


These volunteers are trained and equipped to lead small groups of volunteers to harvest excess produce from backyards. Click here to learn more about requirements and training!


Every week GleanSLO volunteers collect produce donations from farmers at local farmers markets and deliver to nearby pantries for distribution.


Host a Neighborhood Fruit Drive and log volunteer hours independently! This opportunity is particularly good for students who need volunteer hours for community engagement, but anyone is welcome to participate.

Grocery Rescue

About Grocery Rescue

The SLO Food Bank coordinates the rescue of edible food from grocery stores and wholesalers throughout SLO County. To minimize transportation emissions and maximize efficiency, our network of Agency Partners performs the majority of Grocery Rescue from stores in their neighborhoods. This helps reduce waste and makes up approximately 30% of the food distributed through our Hunger Relief Network.

How Grocery Rescue Works

Interested in donating edible food to neighbors in need? We’ll work with you to get your excess food to those who need it most.


If you are a business with excess edible food, we’d love to help you help those in need! Please email [email protected] for more information.


Our Food Rescue Team works to match donors with nonprofit Agency Partners in your neighborhood to pick up that excess edible food on a regular schedule.


Agency Partners take it from there! We provide training and support to ensure they are able to get donations to those in need safely and efficiently.


FAQ Navigation

Click a link below to jump to the correlating questions section. Click the question to expand the box and read the answer.


GleanSLO started to take root in 2010, and like so many amazing things in our community, was pioneered by a group of inspired, hardworking community members. The SLO Food Bank has played an active role as fundraiser, facilitator, and distributor of the produce since its inception and in 2011, GleanSLO officially became a program of the SLO Food Bank. Since then, it has grown to be an essential source of produce for our services, and a beloved form of volunteer engagement in the community.


Everyone who wishes to glean must first register to volunteer, and then sign up to secure a spot at a harvest. Don’t see any open harvests? Don’t worry! Once you register you’ll receive weekly emails alerting you when the Harvest Calendar updates. 


Harvest Leaders educate volunteers about proper harvesting technique and safe use of equipment before the start of every glean.


See our Ladder Safety Video for detailed instructions. No one under the age of 16 is permitted to use orchard ladders.


Full produce crates and heavy equipment should always be team lifted by at least two people using the proper lifting technique of maintaining a straight back and bending at the knees.

Knives & Clippers

When using harvest knives, a cut-proof glove is required on the user’s non-cutting hand.

Attire & Footwear

Sun and eye protection is highly encouraged, as well as sleeves for citrus harvesting and no loose clothing. Gleaners must wear close-toed shoes.

Harvests open to Youngsters and Late Teens will be noted in the description of the event, and are determined based on safety and physical requirements, and equipment needed to harvest.

YOUNGSTERS ages 4-15

Harvests which indicate “Youngsters welcome” in the description are open to children ages 4-15. A guardian must be registered to glean and present at the harvest for active supervision of Youngsters and must provide a printed, signed copy of our volunteer waiver and liability agreement upon arrival at the harvest. Please indicate the name and age of each child you plan to bring to the harvest in the designated space upon signup. This helps us know how many helpers to expect! Equipment used by children is subject to size availability, and parent/guardian discretion. No ladder use is permitted by children under 16.

LATE-TEENS ages 16-17

Harvests which indicate “Late-Teens welcome” in the description are open to teens ages 16-17. Active adult supervision is not required. As with adults, Late-Teens must register as a volunteer before signing up for a harvest. Be sure to check the box indicating you are a “Late-Teen” upon signup, and provide a printed copy of our volunteer waiver and liability agreement signed by a parent or guardian upon arrival at the harvest. Late-Teens are also welcome at gleans which are open to Youngsters.

  • Bring water to drink.
  • Please take care of any bathroom needs before arriving at the harvest site – it is unlikely that a restroom will be available.
  • We will provide all equipment needed to harvest, but you are welcome to bring your own small equipment (gloves/clippers), if you prefer.
  • Sunblock
  • Long-sleeved T-shirt
  • Long pants
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes
  • A hat and/or protective glasses (trees can drop debris during picking)

Not yet. You have completed the first step of giving us your contact information. Now you can visit our harvest calendar to sign up to glean! If there are no harvests listed, then we do not have any scheduled, or the scheduled harvests are already full. New harvests are posted every Friday and all registered volunteers will be sent an email notification when the calendar is updated.

After you sign up for a harvest you will be directed to a page with the property address and additional information needed for the glean. A link to this information will also be emailed to you upon signup and as a reminder the day before the harvest.

The email that you receive after signing up for the harvest has a link to cancel your shift if needed. Please take a moment to complete the cancellation process; this gives someone else a chance to attend and ensures we have enough volunteers for a successful harvest.

The GleanSLO program relies on donations from crop owners, permitting weather conditions, and alignment of schedules to coordinate a harvest. These variables can all affect the number of gleaning opportunities we are able to organize. Looking to contribute to our mission on a rainy day? Consider volunteering in the warehouse or at a distribution.

Since most harvests are scheduled for only two hours, we ask that you sign up only if you can arrive on time and stay for the duration of the glean.

No. The Food Rescue & Glean Coordinator will cancel gleans in the case of inclement weather. If you are registered for a harvest that needs to be canceled, you’ll receive an email from your harvest leader. In addition to rain, the following conditions may cause a glean cancellation: 

  • Thunder and lightning 
  • Outdoor temperatures above 90°
  • Poor air quality due to nearby fires 


You can always reach out to our Food Rescue team at [email protected] to talk through your specific scenario. A few examples include:

  • Quality produce that is no longer commercially viable
  • Produce from bypassed fields
  • Non-machine harvestable crops
  • Pollinator trees in orchards or on residential properties
  • Secondary growth
  • Additionally, the SLO Food Bank gratefully accepts donations of already-harvested crops. Bins for harvesting may be available upon request.

We properly train, supervise and hold liability coverage for all volunteers who glean with us. We are happy to provide a certificate of coverage upon request, and answer questions to help you decide if gleaning is right for you or your business. Please contact us at [email protected] with inquiries.

Additionally, volunteers are required to sign a form releasing the grower/property owner of liability.

CA provides a tax credit for all CA-grown produce donated to food banks, equaling 15% of the donation’s wholesale value. Additionally, farmers are eligible for a federal tax deduction for donated produce. For information, see the link below. Please consult your tax advisor to determine your eligibility for the tax incentives.

No. The Federal Emerson Good Samaritan act of 1996 protects donors from liability when donating to a nonprofit organization for distribution to individuals in need.


We encourage any Agency Partner interested in participating in the Food Rescue Program to reach out and have a conversation with our Food Rescue Team to see if it might be a good fit.

Considerations can include:

  • The capacity for safely collecting, storing and reporting rescued food.
  • The distance to possible donor sites.

Not an Agency Partner of the SLO Food Bank? Learn more here.

Fantastic! Please reach out to schedule a time for our Food Rescue team to come to see your facility, understand how much food you can safely store, and determine what type of partnership would be most beneficial to your Agency. We will also review and have you sign the Agency Direct Rescue Agreement which outlines requirements to participate in the program. Next, the Food Rescue team will begin looking for local donors that would be a good fit for a partnership, considering location and schedule as well as the type and amount of food that will be donated.

Agency Partners are strongly encouraged to keep records of all donations and reporting on rescue from most stores is required. If you are an Agency Partner currently rescuing and are unsure about reporting requirements for a new or established partnership, please contact the Food Rescue Team at [email protected] for clarification.

Our team understands that circumstances can create overdue reports and will communicate openly and clearly with partners in these situations. In the rare situation of an ongoing lack of reporting, the SLO Food Bank is obligated to notify the affected store, and offer to connect them with an alternative Agency Partner in good standing.

It’s important to understand that our food rescue agreements with donors do not dictate the amount or type of donations offered. While we do not have control over what is offered up for donation, we do have the right to decline any donation we are unable to distribute.

While grocery rescue can be an important source of food for nonprofit agencies, it is not the only source of food that the SLO Food Bank can provide. Please reach out to our Partner Services team at [email protected] if you are in need of additional food to serve your clients. If you are interested in setting up additional grocery rescue partnerships, please reach out to our Food Rescue team at [email protected].

No. Food recovery organizations are not required to accept any donations and in fact, we encourage you to reject donations that are spoiled/inedible, that haven’t been safety stored or transported, are beyond your capacity to distribute, or food that does not satisfy the nutrition standards of your organization. If you are offered a donation of edible food that is too large for your capacity, or outside of your participants’ preferences, please advise store staff to contact the Food Rescue Team at [email protected] for help in reallocating the donation.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy (SB 1383) FAQ

SB 1383 California Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law is legislation geared toward lessening the amount of organic waste sent to landfills. To achieve this goal, businesses that generate food (also known as commercial edible food generators, or CEFGs) will be required to start donating surplus edible food fit for human consumption. Click the links below for more information on SB 1383 requirements:

It’s important to note that food recovery organizations (such as the SLO Food Bank and Agency Partners) are not required by law to recover donated food. The only requirement for food recovery organizations, under SB 1383, is to maintain records of partnerships and report collections. 

Agency Partners are not responsible for establishing or maintaining records of food rescue contracts under 1383. As the party responsible for coordination and reporting, SLO Food Bank is also responsible for maintaining food rescue contracts with donors in pursuance of SB 1383 compliance. Agency Partners asked to sign food rescue contracts are advised to decline, and direct the donor to contact the Food Rescue Team at [email protected] to establish a contract. 

Also known as a Commercial Edible Food Generator or CEFG, a generator is any organization or business that generates excess edible food eligible for donations. For detailed information including criteria for determining generator status please see Tier 1 & 2 Generator Information on the CalRecycle website.

Although not required to collect edible food donations, Agency Partners who do collect are required to report weights of those collections. SLO Food Bank, as the coordinating entity, is responsible for collecting reporting from Agency Partners, and submitting data to the Integrated Waste Management Authority, which in turn reports to CalRecycle on a biennial basis. These reports are used to monitor progress towards the organic diversion goals of SB 1383.

For further information regarding SB 1383 requirements, or food rescue questions in general please contact your Food Rescue Team at [email protected].