Looking for a way to save your leftover wedding food from going to waste without having to haul it back to your house for a three-day binge? You can actually donate your unspoiled leftovers. Your caterer may already be doing it, in fact. If they're following safety standards and in communication with coordinating shelters, it can totally work.
First, a caveat: most food banks and food redistribution programs generally only accept donations of new or pre-packaged/canned foods, but you can find homeless shelters and animal rescue centers who are willing to take your fresh catering leftovers. Not every food item can be donated if it exceeds storage limitations or if the food wasn't in a controlled environment (like in an open area without refrigeration, for instance). Let's talk about how to donate your wedding leftovers.
1. If you're using a professional caterer/venue, ask if they already have a partnership with a food rescue program.
If so, you're already there! Let them know you'd like to participate and what steps you'll need to take.
2. If you're self-catering or your pro doesn't have a partnership, start Googling.
Contact a homeless or animal shelter nearby to your venue to let them know you’re interested in donating your leftover food. In most cases, the basic requirements are that the food has been refrigerated and is not more than a day old, but it varies. Make sure to contact them at least a few weeks in advance so you can keep your caterer, venue, and any wedding planners in the loop.
Online resources to get you started in the U.S.:
*Feeding America (U.S. food bank finder)
*Homeless Shelter Directory (U.S.-based homeless shelter finder)
*Great Non-Profits (U.S.-based homeless shelter finder)
* Humane Society (U.S.-based animal resuce finder)
* ASPCA (U.S.-based animal resuce finder)
3. Find a way to deliver the leftover food quickly.
If you're using a wedding planner, they may be able to arrange this for you. Otherwise you can contact a “food runner” to assist. Food runners can be found through various websites, but often your local shelter will already have relationships with some.
Disclaimer: Make sure to check your local laws for food donation safety requirements and make sure your chosen organization is in compliance with all local laws.
What organizations did we miss? Let us know in the comments!