Donating Food

Parent Reviews

The Alameda Food Bank (in the city of Alameda) takes small donations of food.

I think there are organizations that help homeless and low-income women with professional clothing. Not sure about the details though. If you don't find one, Out of the Closet is a good place to donate. Also some chapters of the International Rescue Committee accept clothing donations. I don't know if the Oakland office does or not.

Opened packages of diapers and car seats you can probably give away on Freecycle. 

There is an AMAZING recycling center in El Cerrito. They take textiles, among many other things (plastic bags and bubble wrap! electronics!). Check them out:


If the food is not past its stated sell-by/use-by date, maybe just drop it in a food donation barrel.

I believe both Jewish Family Services and Catholic Charities work with resettling refugee families.  Other option for professional clothing: BOSS in Berkeleuy.

Textiles: Towels (only) can go to animal shelters.  All-Cotton t-shirts to Waterside Workshop in Berkeley (they use them as rags in their bike refurbishing program).  Ripped textiles - North Face has a collection barrel for textiles and shoes in any condition.

Unless the textbooks are pretty recent, I doubt you'll find a charity that will take them.  You could bring them to El Cerrito Recycling Center exchange area.

Diapers - What size?  I work with needy families who would be delighted to get diapers; feel free to message me.  Also - Bananas 

Thank you for doing things responsibly! Here's what I've learned in our recent purge: 1) If the food's expiration date is at least 3 months away, you can drop it off at an Alameda County Food Bank collection point - Berkeley Bowl and other locations have permanent barrels out where you can leave donations. (Side tip: That's what I do with our earthquake kit supplies when I rotate them out.) See list of locations here: If the expiration date is coming up, I've had good luck giving things away on BPN/Craigslist/Freecycle/Buy Nothing Facebook group. 2) The IRC helps re-settle refugees and can usually use professional clothes - their space is limited, though, so they don't take other clothing. More info here: I'll bet someone else on this list knows a church or other organization helping local refugee families that could use clothing. 3) Outdated textbooks are pretty much just recycling - hopefully someone will have a better idea, but that's my experience sorting book donations for the library. You can also leave books at the re-use area at the El Cerrito recycling facility. 4) Opened diapers/used car seats are probably a good choice for Freecycle/etc., unless someplace like Bananas wants them. 5) You can take worn-out textiles to any H&M store for recycling: Good luck with the move!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Moving - need to donate canned goods & pantry items

Jan 2011

My family and I will be moving out of the country and as much as I'm trying to use up what we've got in the kitchen, I'm sure that I will have many pantry items left over. I'm looking for a place or organization that will accept these pantry items, dry goods, spices, cans goods, etc. While the cans will be unopened, I'll have a combination of spices, dry goods, and cooking oils that will be unopened and opened. I'd rather not toss stuff out or have to ask numerous friends if their interested; instead I would prefer to give to an organization that is in need of such items. I'm not sure if a food bank would accept opened items. Any recommendations?

You could try posting to I'm enrolled in the Oakland group and people have posted and given away items such a opened jars of vitamins, past due contact lenses, and even cooked chicken meat! In my experience, food banks will not take opened or expired items. V Li

Emergency Reserves - what to do with old food?

Sept 2010

We just moved and uncovered the stash of ''emergency food''. I was looking at it and it is all ''best if used before 2008''. Any ideas on what to do with all this food? Couple boxes worth Also, what do people do? Do you rotate the food occasionally? Just leave it there and assume it'll be good enough in an emergency? other? wondering what to do...

if you food is dated 2008, you probably cannot donate it to a shelter.

However -with all the hungry homeless people in the bay area, believe me a hungry person will not CARE about the dates.

You can post it free on Craig's List or freecycle (and leave it outside your door after you find someone) and I guarantee you it will all be gone as soon as you do that. anon

A couple of years ago I hit on a system for earthquake supplies:

1 - I rotate them every spring & fall. I have separate bins for food that needs to be rotated every 6 months, & for stuff that lasts a year or more, so if it's Spring, I don't have to even go into the 1-year bin. If they have a longer shelf life, like beans, I mark an expiry date on the can.

2 - I made a shopping list for what foods to get at Trader Joe's & the regular market so come Equinox time, I print out the list & go.

3 - I get foods that my family eats on a very regular basis, so that when it comes out of the earthquake bin it goes straight into my pantry. Also, I figure the last thing we need if there's been a big earthquake is to deal with eating foods we're unfamiliar with. I go heavy on the snack food, & don't forget a bottle of screw-top wine.

4 - if the food is expired it goes in the green bin. If it's not, it either goes into the pantry or into the food donation bin at the front of the Berkeley Bowl.

5 - I keep all the food (& my camping supplies) in lock-top plastic bins in a shed in the back yard. Fall Equinox, comin' up!

I can't take credit for this great idea, but I'm happy to pass it along... Once a year (say Christmastime) buy enough food to re-stock your emergency stash, then donate your old stuff (before it's expired) to your local food bank. You can't go far without bumping into one of the collection barrels, so it should be fairly easy to remember. You could potentially do this every 2 years, but I just think it's a nice tradition.

Regarding your 2008 expired food, my opinion is to ditch it. My sister moved recently and unintentionally left me with a bunch of expired food from her pantry. Let me just say that there's a reason for those ''best by'' dates. Two years past the date is too long! Paula cooper

Where to donate Meyer lemons

March 2005

We have an exceptionally productive meyer lemon tree. We can't possibly use all the lemons. Is there a place in the Berkeley area where I can donate these tasty lemons

How nice of you to donate your lemons! I know that Phoenix Pastifico on Shattuck Ave., a couple of blocks north of University, makes fabulous Meyer Lemon pasta. I haven't been there in awhile, but in the past they used to have signs offering to buy Meyer lemons from folks who had them. The owner, Eric, is a wonderful guy, so you could know your lemons were going to a good cause! Good luck! fellow lemon lover

You can give those lemons to 'Pasta Pastificio (sp?)' - they make fresh lemon pasta and the BEST olive bread in the Bay Area. I think they trade product for meyer lemons. They are on Shattuck between Virginia and Francisco. lyn

Try Phoenix Pastificio (on Shattuck near Delaware in Berkeley) to donate -or sell- your meyer lemons. north berkeley mom

This is not a donation, but.... In the past, Pasta Pacifico (on Shattuck between Delaware and Francisco) had a sign in their window that they would *buy* meyer lemons... Otherwise, I'm sure my church could make great use of them if you wanted to donate them!! If so you can email me at mssonatina [at]

I also have a very productive meyer lemon tree. I'm not sure about donating but I posted an ad on craigslist saying I had a box full of free lemons. I left them on our front steps and an hour later they were gone. I later got an email from the guy who picked them up thanking me. I'm not sure what he did with them but he seemed happy to get them. This is always a quick easy option if you can't find anywhere to donate. anon

I don't know about donating your lemons (although I'm sure there's a good way to do that), but several years ago when a friend of mine had a bumper crop of figs, she called Chez Panisse. They asked her if she did anything to the tree (pesticides, etc.) When she told them she didn't, they said to bring them by, which she did. They bought them from her on the spot. anon

I don't know if they are still taking them, but the Phoenix Pastificio restaurant/store in Berkeley (1786 Shattuck, near Delaware; 510-883-0783) was looking for meyer lemons a while back, even to buy or trade. They use them in their pastas and baked goods. Shirley

The Temescal Amity Works will take (maybe even harvest) your lemons, and give them away to neighborhood merchants and residents. Their website is heidipie

Phoenix Pastaria on Shattuck Ave. often is looking for meyer lemons. They are sometimes over-inundated with them, so give them a call and see if they're looking for Meyer lemons before going up there. Heather

Call Pasta Pacifico (sp?) on Shattuck about one and a half blocks north of Hearst, on the west side of the street. They make exquisite fresh pasta and their lemon pasta is wonderful. (mmmmm) I've heard that they love getting unsprayed home grown Berkeley meyer lemons. Perhaps they would do a trade? - appreciative pasta lover

To donate to charity, see Apparently they are working on getting volunteers in the east bay to pick donated fruit as well. David

Donating opened containers of food

Feb 2004

we are moving to hawaii and have to leave a ton of food - mostly opened condiments- vinegar, spices, lots of bulk foods like rice, various grains. Is there anywhere that we can donate this food? food bank wont take opened food but seems like a real shame to throw away hundreds of dollars of good food while some go hungry. thanks adrian

Try contacting Oakland Potluck. I know they accept prepared foods, produce, etc. They might either take your food, or refer you to someone who does.

Where to donate canned foods

Jan 2004

Can anyone reccomend a place to donate canned food?

I collect donated canned food for Project Open Hand which provides the HIV/AIDS community with bags of groceries and cooked meals. You could drop off the cans with them in Berkeley or if you are closer to me, drop them off in El Sobrante and I'll deliver them. Lindy

My church, St.Alban's, will accept canned food because we give it to institutions asking for food donations or to people who come by. The church is at 1501 Washington Ave. in Albany near Curtis St., one block from Solano. If the office is closed, you can leave the cans near the door and they'll be brought in the next day. Nancy