Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Food donation

Households and businesses in NSW throw away almost a million tonnes of food waste each year. Meanwhile, 100,000 people need food relief help every month in NSW, a quarter of them children.

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Environmental Trust are working to close the gap between these two statistics by funding new equipment to help food relief agencies.

The inspiring video below showcases the work that food rescue organisations in NSW do for their communities, how they have used the funding to help people in need and the very real alternatives for rescued food instead of landfill.

Feed people not landfill

If you are a food relief organisation:

Food donations grants are now open for applications for the equipment needed to collect, store and distribute donated food such as fridges, freezers and refrigerated vans.

Up to $1 million will be available under Stream 3 of the Organics Infrastructure (Large and Small) Program for food donation projects. The grants:

  • provide between $25,000-$500,000
  • cover up to 90 per cent of the capital costs of the project
  • are open to not-for-profit organisations
  • are managed by the NSW Environmental Trust

The funding supports the expansion of existing food collection and donation services or setting up new services. Projects can range from small-scale initiatives collecting food from local businesses to meet local need or major upgrades to a service or facility that will save and redistribute large quantities of food that would otherwise be landfilled.

How to apply

Download application forms and guidelines from the NSW Environmental Trust website.

Please be careful to select the right documents for this stream. Each stream has different forms and guidelines. Food donation is Stream 3 of the Organics Infrastructure (Large and Small) Program.

The NSW EPA is able to support all applicants during the application period. If you would have questions or would like advice please contact the NSW EPA via

More information is available from presentations and resources from our Loving Food Day.

If you are a business:

If you have surplus food, think about redistributing it instead of sending to landfill. The positive impact this decision can have is the best option for your business, the community, and the environment.

Food that can be donated includes:

  • leftover unused portions of food that have not been served to the customers or clients such as sandwiches or salads from a café
  • excess food at food markets or supermarkets
  • food grown at farms that does not meet the size or cosmetic criteria set by supermarkets
  • food that has damaged or incorrect packaging from food manufactures
  • food which has passed its 'best before' date, provided it is not damaged, deteriorated or perished or passed a 'use by' date.

The law on donating food

The protection of food donors is covered under the Civil Liability Amendment (Food Donations) Act 2002. The act limits the liability of individuals and businesses that donate food, providing certain food safety conditions have been met.

As the NSW Food Authority advises, food donors must ensure that:

  • the food is donated in good faith for a charitable or benevolent purpose
  • the food is donated with the intention that the receiver of food does not have to pay for the food
  • the food is safe to eat when it leaves the possession or control of the donor
  • the donor gives the charity any information it needs to ensure the ongoing safety of the food.

Previously funded food donation projects

Addison Road Centre for Arts, Culture, Community and Environment
Tucker and Land Justice Food Pantry
This project will divert organic waste from local food outlets and manufacturers to hungry mouths. The centre's location creates a unique opportunity to address a cross-section of issues. The Inner West is a food oasis, with an abundance of businesses sending food waste to landfill. With a widening socio-economic gap between high-income and marginalised groups, and a severe shortage of food rescue and redistribution organisations, there's an acute need that we can meet. Local businesses are enthusiastic about helping to close this gap, while at the same time having a positive environmental impact and saving on disposal costs.

Best start school food project

It is estimated one in seven children in NSW go to school without breakfast, making concentration and academic success difficult. In some schools in the Illawarra it is estimated one in two children go hungry. This project will help to redress this profound disadvantage by providing nutritious meals for students from food destined for landfill. We will create, through our two chefs and the help of volunteers, delicious and nutritious meals based on the fresh food available. The project aims to provide 100,800 meals per year including: breakfast, morning tea, lunch and evening meal for students for free. Initially we will start at Albion Park Rail Public School and then extend the program.

Earth Recovery Australia Ltd
Blue Mountains food rescue

Earth Recovery Australia is expanding the Blue Mountains Food Rescue from a one day a week to a five day a week program. A new vehicle and storage fridges will allow collection for more safe and nutritious food from local restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and bakeries.

Foodbank NSW Limited
Project Salvation

Foodbank NSW's Project Salvation will more than double the quantity of healthy food it salvages and distributes to the poor. The funding will fit out Foodbank's new warehouse with energy efficient chillers and freezers, racks, packing and handling equipment, forklifts and vehicles.

Growing SecondBite's rescue and redistribution of surplus fresh food

This project will fund a new refrigerated van for SecondBite to expand the rescue of surplus fresh food from food retailers and caterers to redistribute it to vulnerable people and their families.

Food Fairness Illawarra
Illawarra food recovery and distribution hub
The Illawarra food recovery and distribution hub uses a regional approach to bring together local agencies, charity organisations and businesses involved in the donation, rescue and distribution of food. By working collaboratively, the project will increase the food rescued in the region from 33 tonnes per week to 58 tonnes per week, providing more than 2600 sit down meals, 2500 food hampers and 2100 outreach meals. Overall, this project will result in the delivery of more than 7000 meals each week to families in the Illawarra region.

Jesuit Social Services Ignite food outreach $149,091 This project sources free fresh and packaged food which is surplus to the store suppliers and would have been directed to landfill. The food is redistributed to disadvantaged people in the western and parts of north-western suburbs of Sydney. The project has multiple food sources that donate to Ignite Food Store and donors include Harris Farm Markets, Sydney Care, Foodbank, Coles Second Bite, IGA, local primary and school can drives and North Sydney/Lavender Bay and Kirribilli parishes. The food is picked up from the designated sources regularly in the mornings and taken back to Ignite Food Store. This Store is important in supplying food for meals to the most disadvantaged of the local Blacktown, Campbelltown and Penrith communities. The funding from the grant will allow a new refrigerated truck and van which is estimated to provide an extra 215,000 meals.

OzHarvest Sydney north-west and schools food rescue expansion $110,728 The Sydney north west and schools food rescue expansion project aims to reduce food waste by 260 tonnes per annum and increase the amount of surplus food collected and redistributed to charitable agencies and schools for people in need. The project will support two additional refrigerated trucks within the region. Local food businesses including supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, markets and caterers will be engaged to donate their excess food, enabling more people to benefit from good food that would otherwise go to landfill.

Food rescue logistics equipment

OzHarvest will purchase a forklift and shelving for the OzHarvest warehouse facility in Alexandria. The equipment will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of warehouse operations allowing approximately 115 additional tonnes per year of bulk foods to be diverted from landfill, processed through the warehouse and redistributed.

Northern Sydney region food rescue expansion

The purchase of a refrigerated vehicle will allow OzHarvest to substantially increase the amount of surplus food collected and redistributed to charitable agencies for people in need within the council regions of Mosman, Manly, Warringah, Pittwater, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Willoughby and Ku-ring-gai.

Providential Homes Inc.
Food for the homeless community outreach
Providential Homes takes good-quality food that would otherwise go to waste in landfill, and distributes it free of charge to homeless persons who are temporary emergency and transitional guests in Providential Homes accommodation, and also into the wider community. Currently Providential accommodates up to 170 persons and provides meals for up to 100 guests per day, however accommodation capacity is shortly to rise to 300. The Food for the Homeless Project will fund a refrigerated light truck and allow provision of meals for all 300 of our guests, and additional meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged persons not in our accommodation.

SecondBite fresh food rescue and redistribution expansion into the Illawarra region

SecondBite will buy a refrigerated van to expand the rescue of surplus fresh food and its redistribution to vulnerable families in the Illawarra. The funding will help rescue an extra 2,885 kilograms of surplus fresh food a week, providing an additional 300,000 meals a year.

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation
Tharawal food rescue/food panty pilot implementation plan
Tharawal is located in south-western Sydney (one of the most disadvantaged regions in NSW) and is home to one of the largest Aboriginal populations in NSW. Tharawal, in conjunction with regional partners is looking to establish a food pantry/food rescue outlet to provide much needed support to the local Aboriginal community through the provision of food staples while simultaneously reduced food-based landfill. To establish this service, Tharawal and its partners are looking to implement a pilot program that will engage with the local food retailers (i.e. supermarkets, restaurants, food manufacturers) in order to establish requirements for a larger scale operation.

Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre
Winmalee community food cupboard

This project will expand the collection and redistribution of food donation in the Blue Mountains and Nepean Local Government Areas through a partnership with a number of community groups. Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre will purchase a refrigerated vehicle and the storage infrastructure to safely carry, maintain and handle quality but perishable food recovered from local businesses.

More information

Waste and Resource Recovery Branch
Organics Unit
Phone: (02) 9995 6960

Page last updated: 11 July 2016