Columbus Food Rescue Volunteer FAQs

In 2023, Columbus Food Rescue volunteers completed more than 10,000 rescues, keeping 1.1 MILLION pounds of food from the landfill. This work wouldn't be possible without the help of an impressive network of volunteers.

Interested in volunteering?

Create or log in to your Food Rescue account. Explore opportunities. Rescue food.
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Screenshot 2024-05-30 at 11.31.30 AM

Check out these frequently asked questions:

Volunteering with Food Rescue is simple: you sign up for an individual rescue (see below) on our web-based app, then show up at a specific location, place the food donation into your car, and drive it to the designated receiving site, where a staff member or volunteer will be waiting to accept it.

Every day, dozens of rescues are available, involving donations from hospitals, bakeries, event centers, grocery stores, and more—and each rescue is pre-assigned a nearby receiving agency (like a pantry or community center), empowering you to provide amazing organizations with the food they need to serve vulnerable members of the community.

You can sign up for any of these rescues that fit your schedule and your commute, and you can participate as frequently as you’d like—once a month, once a week, or multiple times per day.

Participating in Food Rescue is a direct and easy way to help decrease food insecurity and minimize food waste in our communities. According to the USDA, 30-40% of the food supply in the United States ends up as food waste. By volunteering your time and resources, you help provide food to those who need it, and you help make sure that food stays out of our landfills. Not only that, but Food Rescue also gives you the opportunity to engage with and support directly some of the incredible organizations that nourish our communities city-wide.

First, create a user account through the Food Rescue website. Make sure to verify your email and phone number so we know how to reach you! 

When you sign in, the first thing you’ll see is a display of any rescues you’re signed up for for today, any rescues you’ve recently been signed up for, and any rescues scheduled for you within the next couple weeks. If you haven’t completed any rescues yet, there won’t be anything displayed there—but fear not! You can locate and sign up for an “unclaimed” rescue under the “Schedule” tab. 

If you’re using a computer browser, the tabs show up at the top of the screen (see screen-shot below); if you’re using a phone, the tabs show up at the bottom of the screen.

PLEASE NOTE: if you’re using a phone or tablet and you can’t see the three tabs (“My FRUS,” “My Rescues,” and “Schedule”), you probably need to “X” out the pop-up at the bottom of your screen that asks you to add the site to your home screen.

When you click on the “Schedule” tab, you’ll see something roughly like this.



Click “Filters” to filter out results by day of the week, donor, or receiving location. 

If you see a rescue you can pick up, click “I’ll do it” to claim the rescue; if you want to adopt the rescue, click “Adopt.” A rescue that has been adopted by someone else WON’T have that option—like the Katzinger’s run in the screenshot. Click anywhere else on the rescue to see additional details—pickup time and address, a drop-off time and address, and probably some details about where to park, if you should call in advance, etc. 

If you have any questions ahead of a rescue, please don’t hesitate to text or call Susan at 614-906-2553.

If you are able to commit to completing a rescue on a weekly basis—i.e. you know you can pick up food from the same place at the same time every week—you can “adopt” the rescue, and the app will automatically assign it to you each week. 

If something comes up and you can’t complete a rescue you’ve adopted, you can unclaim the rescue for the particular day(s) you’re going to miss so someone else can pick that day up. 

If you adopt a rescue and discover that you can no longer commit to completing the rescue on a regular basis, you can simply “unadopt” the rescue in the system. You can still claim that rescue on a day-by-day basis if you wish to.

If you sign up for a rescue and then realize you are no longer able to complete it as scheduled, you can “unclaim” the rescue by clicking on it in your profile, then clicking the “I can’t make it” button. If something comes up at the last minute and you can’t complete the rescue you signed up for, you can “unclaim” it in the system, but please also contact Susan (614-906-2553) or Emily (614-440-3324) as soon as possible, so we can arrange for someone else to pick up the food or the let the organizations know that we cannot fulfill the rescue that day. Obviously, the earlier you can act on your awareness that you cannot complete a rescue you’ve signed up for, the better able we are likely to be to find coverage for it.

To close a run: in the “My FRUS” tab on the website, locate the run in your list of recent rescues. There will be two options there: “Yes, I did it!” or “I couldn’t make it.” EVEN IF THERE WAS NO FOOD, if you *attempted* to complete a run, click the first option! That will take you to a screen where you can indicate that there was no donation.

When you click “Yes, I did it,” you’ll see this:

If there was no donation, select the “No Food Available” toggle, which will take you to the “close” screen without asking more questions. If there was food, however, you can select which kinds of food were involved, and then, when you click “Next,” you’ll be asked to estimate how much of these kinds of food you rescued.

If the receiving agency has the ability to weigh the food, you can ask them for the weight of the food you’ve dropped off and record it there. You can also use these examples to help estimate the food weight.

Finally, the “Comments” section is a great place to pass on any comments about the rescue—such as changes in the donor’s or recipient’s schedule or if someone at either site passes along a recommendation or request for how the rescue could be done better. We do try to keep abreast of changes and to update the Comments sections for rescues, but sometimes details change without our being notified, so your feedback really helps.

Even if you don’t have anything to deliver, you still need to “close” the rescue in the system—please don’t click “I can’t make it” or “I didn’t do it”, because that might lead to someone else trying to pick up the non-existent food! Click “Yes I did it,” and then select “No Food Available” on the close-out screen.

Absolutely! If you are interested in receiving credit for time spent volunteering with Food Rescue. Please contact Susan (sswinford@local-matters.org) or Emily (erials@local-matters.org) and let us know what forms you need signed, what requirements you’re completing, etc.

(These guidelines are adapted from the Peninsula Food Runners’ Food Safety Guide.)

  • If you are sick, please do not participate in a food rescue. You can “unclaim” a rescue using the procedure outlined above. Particularly now, let’s err on the side of caution; protecting others from exposure to illness is absolutely an important way to care for those in our community.
  • Wear a single-use glove whenever handling food directly. 
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum near exposed food.
  • Keep your vehicle clean of excessive dirt, insects, animals, and other potential contaminants while transporting food. At no point should food be anywhere near cleaning supplies, other chemicals, dirty clothes, trash, animal hair, etc.
  • Consider having a sheet, tarp, plastic shower curtain, or carry-all container that you lay down in the trunk or on the back seat of your car before transporting any food to avoid spills/contamination. Even well-packed food can leave behind unwanted souvenirs.
  • Do not put food on the ground—regardless of whether it is in plastic bags or its original containers.
  • Do not mix hot and cold food OR cooked and raw food in the same carrier or box.
  • If ever in doubt about whether these procedures were followed, accept the food donation; notify the receiving agency about your doubts and let them decide what to do. (Please also note the concern in the “Comments” section when you close out the rescue in the Food Rescue site.)

A frequently-voiced concern is about liability. Following the guidelines above will help make sure that the food we rescue is usable and good for its recipients. Please also know that the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act and the 2022 Food Donation Improvement Act protect businesses and individuals who donate food in good faith from being held liable should someone become sick from consuming donated food. (The only exception is in the case of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.) These laws protect individuals as well as for-profit and non-profit businesses and governmental entities. Learn more about these protections here.

Please contact Susan (614-906-2553) or Emily (614-440-3324) to find out if there is another receiving agency that can accept the food you’ve picked up. If you have contacts/familiarity with another site that might be able to accept the food, you are welcome to take the food there, but please note the change in the “Additional Notes/Comments?” section when you close the rescue. That helps us track the issue, particularly if it is a recurrent one, and make adjustments if necessary.

In the details listed for your rescue, there should be a phone number associated with the donor or the receiving agency—you can try those numbers if you’re having trouble finding a location, accessing a building, etc. For more general concerns, or if you are unable at the last minute to complete the rescue, please contact Susan (614-906-2553) or Emily (614-440-3324).

Food Rescue rescuers are amazing sources of new donations, because you all know just what a difference we can make and how easy it is for donor and recipient sites to participate! If you feel able to talk a contact through the process of signing up on the site, please do--and then send a text or email to Susan (614-906-2553; sswinford@local-matters.org)  or Emily (614-440-3324; erials@local-matters.org) to pass along any background information and questions to help us when we make contact with the new sign-up. The more information we have, the better able we are to match organizations up in productive and efficient ways.  

If you’d rather simply pass the lead along, that’s great too. We’re currently in the process of creating FAQs sheets for Donors and Recipients too, so we can make contact, answer questions, and provide some guidelines that can help an organization decide how Food Rescue can best serve them.

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