Food Rescue: What it is & How we do it

Food rescue, also called food recovery, food salvage, or surplus food redistribution, is the practice of acquiring quality, edible food that would otherwise go to waste. Rescued food comes from places such as farms, produce markets, grocery stores, restaurants, or other retailers.

While most organizations that rescue food use terminology such as “diverted from the landfill” or “rescued from the landfill,” rescued food NEVER ACTUALLY comes from the landfill, a dumpster, or anything similar.

Think of a food rescuing organization as a detour sign, directing traffic a different, safer, or better way. Food banks are that detour sign for food. Useable, quality food is headed toward being wasted and/or thrown out, but we divert it through a new route that puts it into the hands of people who need it.

The most obvious benefit of food rescue is the result of offering healthy food to those who need it. While there are some differences in food rescue organizations’ structures, there are operation and structure differences. These differences include rules they need to follow, the way they run and report finances, whom they serve. Still, the universal commonality among them all is their commitment to feed those experiencing food insecurity.

Rescued food is healthy and edible… but it’s no longer sellable for a myriad of common reasons.

Below are some of the most common reasons food is rescued:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that do not meet cosmetic standards for shape and color. In other words, it’s imperfect in appearance.
  • Products get past their “sell by” or “best by” dates… which is NOT AT ALL the same as being expired or related to food safety.
  • Grocers and food retailers may have made or ordered too much or a product to begin with.
  • A corporation has a strict policy that no item can be on a shelf for sale for a certain number of days, regardless of product type, sell-by date, etc.
  • Farmers – local AND corporate – end up with extra or leftover crops they are unable to sell, whether that sale was meant to be to McDonalds or at a local farmers’ market.
How the Food Bank for Larimer County Rescues Food

The above examples of common reasons food is unsellable all have in common that the food is quality and edible. However, some of the reasons also mean the food item has fewer days of “life” before it can be safely consumed. Because we realize the importance of this concept, we have developed highly sophisticated systems to move those items at lightning speed from its place of origin and into the hands of our clients. 

The Food Bank for Larimer County – and any food bank for that matter – operates on a highly-detailed transportation and logistics management schedule and process to move products quickly and safely.

Here is what a typical day rescuing food looks like at the Food Bank for Larimer County:

6:00 a.m.  |  Five drivers start their workdays at one of our three locations.

  • Box trucks are used on food rescue and supply routes throughout Fort Collins and Loveland Monday through Friday.
  • Each day, food rescue drivers visit over 30 grocery stores and make multiple deliveries to our no-cost markets and agency partners.

7:30 a.m.  |  Driver 1 returns to the main warehouse after rescuing food from Sam’s Club and Super Target.

  • Driver 1 unloads and weighs donations on a floor scale using an electric pallet jack.
  • Produce is immediately taken to the Nourishing Network area of the cooler for our agency partners to pick out what they need for clients at their pantries and shelters.
  • Warehouse staff determines bananas on his truck must be distributed to clients as soon as possible and adjusts the planned deliveries to our no-cost markets accordingly.
  • Driver 1 loads the bananas back on his truck, loads the rest of the planned delivery for our Fort Collins Fresh Food Share and heads out to drive there.
  • On the way there, he stops to rescue food from Trader Joe’s, King Soopers, and Walmart.

8:30 a.m.  |  Food Bank Warehouse staff begin unloading a truckload of mangoes, check temperatures and quality, and storing them in the correct warehouse location.

  • Some of the mangoes don’t have much shelf-life left, so it’s decided to send some out the same day.
  • Planned deliveries are adjusted again using an app for communication so drivers know what to load and Fresh Food Share staff know to expect bananas and mangoes that need to move quickly.

9:00 a.m.  |  Driver 2 loads their delivery for Loveland Fresh Food Share and drives over.


9:30 a.m.  |  Driver 1 and Driver 2 arrive at each Fresh Food Share location and make their deliveries.

  • Driver 1 heads back to our distribution center (main warehouse in Loveland) to load the truck for another delivery.
  • Driver 2 continues on their route to pick up donations from Noosa and Morning Fresh Dairy.

10:00 a.m.  |  Both Fresh Food Share locations open & shoppers are greeted with the sight of delicious, colorful bananas and mangoes along with everything else offered that day.


11:30 a.m.  |  The other 3 food rescue drivers begin arriving back at our two Food Share locations where volunteers sort and organize the food they’ve brought back so it can be offered to shoppers the same day.

  • Our Loveland Food Share driver comes over to the distribution center to pick up a load of food to take back to the Loveland Food Share with her.
  • One of our two Fort Collins Food Share drivers drives to the Poudre School District Child Nutrition Warehouse to pick up donations.
    • As soon as he gets back, volunteers sort and organize the food to distribute that same day.
  • The other Fort Collins driver drives to Native Hill Farm to pick up cabbage and carrots we have purchased through our Local Farm Purchasing Program.
    • Some of that produce is distributed as soon as he gets back to unload, although it will still be good for a couple of weeks.
Detailed Schedules Equal Well-Fed Clients

As illustrated by the schedule above, lots of planning and coordination goes into getting the rescued food from the donating entity into the hands of the clients. Because some donations are fresh fruits and vegetables that are nearing their “best by” dates, we take special steps to move those products to the front of the line so clients can obtain it that same day—in fact, within hours of us receiving it ourselves, most often.

Other foods have a longer shelf life, so it can be worked into the Food Share shopping supply more strategically and with consideration of ensuring every day shopping offers a wide variety of options.

In the end, every day at 10:00 a.m. shoppers are welcomed into our Food Share no-cost markets with smiles and nutritious options for their next meals.

Food Bank for Larimer County Web Search

The Food Bank for Larimer County Fresh Food Share Pantries will be closed Saturday, May 25. 

Our Administrative Offices will be closed Monday, May 27.


El Banco de Comida estará cerrado sábado, 25 de mayo y lunes, 27 de mayo.


A full closure of northbound College Ave. in Fort Collins will affect easy/regular access to our Food Share location at 1301 Blue Spruce from April 15 – 19. Plan accordingly. 

PLEASE NOTE: The Loveland Fresh Food Share has closed early Saturday, Feb. 24. It will re-open during regular business hours Tuesday. 


The Food Bank Food Share location at both Fort Collins (Blue Spruce) and Loveland (Lincoln Ave.) are closed Saturday, April 6.

Administrative Offices at Wright Drive in Loveland are closed Friday, April 5. 


Las ubicaciones de Food Share del Banco de Alimentos en Fort Collins (Blue Spruce) y Loveland (Lincoln Ave.) estarán cerradas el sábado 6 de abril.

Las oficinas administrativas en Wright Drive en Loveland estarán cerradas el viernes 5 de abril.

Due to inclement weather, the Food Bank’s office and Fresh Food Shares will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Normal business hours will resume at all locations Wednesday.
Please stay warm! 
Debido a las inclemencias del tiempo, la oficina del Banco de Comida y Fresh Food Shares estarán cerradas el martes 16 de enero.
El horario comercial normal se reanudará en todas las ubicaciones el miércoles.
¡Manténgase abrigado!

Due to winter holidays, please observe the changes in our regular schedule listed below:


Dec. 23-26: Food Share Pantries & Administrative Offices CLOSED

Dec. 27-29: OPEN Regular Hours

Dec. 30 – Jan. 1: Food Share Pantries & Administrative Offices CLOSED

Jan. 2: OPEN – Resume Regular Hours


We are different together.

At FBLC we are not all the same. And that is our greatest strength. We draw from our differences of who we are, what we have experienced, and how we think. We cultivate a dynamic and diverse work environment, one that plays a critical role in our ambitious work to end hunger, so we believe in including everyone.

FBLC is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, sex or gender (including pregnancy, childbirth and pregnancy-related conditions), gender identity or expression (including transgender status), sexual orientation, marital status, military service and veteran status, physical or mental disability, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws and ordinances in the provisions of its programs, services, or activities to include discrimination against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

FBLC’s management team is dedicated to this policy with respect to recruitment, hiring, placement, promotion, transfer, training, compensation, benefits, employee activities, access to facilities, and programs and general treatment during employment.

We embrace a philosophy that recognizes and values diversity.

Our goal is to attract, develop, retain, and promote a talented diverse workforce in a culture where all employees will contribute to their fullest potential.

FBLC endeavors to make our careers site accessible to any and all users. If you would like to contact us regarding the accessibility of our website or need assistance completing the application process, please contact our Human Resources team at This contact information is for accommodation requests only and cannot be used to inquire about the status of applications.

Thinking about applying and feel you may not meet all of our qualifications?

If you believe you can shine in one of our roles, we encourage you to apply!

Be aware of altered Food Share hours during the week of

Monday, November 20 | OPEN | 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday, November 21 | OPEN | 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday, November 22 | OPEN | noon – 3:00 pm
Thursday, November 23 | CLOSED
Friday, November 24 | CLOSED
Saturday, November 25 | CLOSED
Sunday, November 26 | CLOSED
Monday, November 27 | CLOSED – Regular schedule resumes

If there is a government shutdown...

The most important thing for you to know, is the Food Bank for Larimer County IS NOT A GOVERNMENT AGENCY. No matter what happens, we will remain open and available to support you. 

There will be other changes you’ll need to know about.  Click here to learn more. 

Si hay un cierre del gobierno...

Lo más importante que debe saber es que el Banco de Comida del Condado de Larimer NO ES UNA AGENCIA GOBERNAMENTAL. Pase lo que pase, permaneceremos abiertos y disponibles para apoyarlos.

Habrá otros cambios que necesitarás conocer. Clic aquí para saber más.

The Food Bank for Larimer County Fresh Food Share Pantries will be closed Saturday, September 2. 

Our Administrative Offices will be closed Monday, September 4.


El Banco de Comida estará cerrado sábado, 2 de septiembre y lunes, 4 de septiembre.

Food Bank for Larimer County is closed Wednesday, August 23, 2023.

Banco de comida ester estará cerrado el miércoles, 23 de agosto de 2023.