Instructions for food donors

Thank you, donor, for supporting food aid activities! Food distribution and community meals make the daily lives of those with limited means easier all around Finland. The reduction of food waste is also good for the environment.


Food distributions, common meals, inclusion and well-being

Distribution events are the best-known way of organising food aid. For these events, foodstuffs donated by supermarkets, wholesalers and factories are distributed to those who need them. They can either be collected in ready-packed grocery bags or the people can select and pack the products themselves.

Community meals, shared lunches and breakfast or snack services have become a more common party of food aid activities over the past ten years. Shared meals provide the possibility for people to communicate with one another, get acquainted and experience meaningful moments.

Whether it is food distribution or a common meal, the food aid activities of today support the well-being of aid recipients and facilitate their inclusion in a way that goes beyond food. Guidance and counselling services, group activities and employment-promoting work are also integral parts of food aid.

Espoo ruokakassit

Donations form the foundation for food aid

The majority of the foodstuffs distributed through food aid are surplus food or food waste. The foodstuffs are donated by supermarkets, wholesalers and distribution centres, food manufacturers, factories and bakeries, industrial kitchens, restaurants, agricultural producers as well as organisers of various events and occasions.

Food is often donated because it cannot be sold or otherwise utilised before the sell-by or use-by date. Also, incorrect package labelling may prevent the sale of a product.

Ground rules should be agreed upon jointly with the recipient of foodstuffs

  • Contact persons and contact information from both parties
  • How often, from where and how are the foodstuffs collected
  • What foodstuffs can the food aid distributor receive (for example, no biowaste or products with an expired use-by date)
  • How are changes or the possible termination of a contract communicated and agreed upon
  • Both parties shall become familiarised with the regulations of authorities concerning food aid
  • Signing a written contract is recommended

The Finnish Food Authority: Guide “Foodstuffs donated to food aid”

The Finnish Food Authority (previously the Finnish Food Safety Authority) has compiled a guide for actors distributing and channelling food aid as well as for municipalities’ food safety control authorities that monitor these activities. The purpose of the guide is to clarify procedures and responsibility issues related to the delivery of food aid.

The guide is based on the idea that the foodstuffs donated to food aid must be safe. The guide aims at instructing actors in the field and, thereby, facilitating the reduction of food waste.


The Finnish Grocery Trade Association encourages putting food waste to good use in the form of food aid

Thanks to good management of consumption, electronic forecast and order systems, effective logistics, deregulation of shop opening times and skilled personnel, it has been possible to reduce waste in supermarkets.

At times, however, products may be left unsold and, in such cases, it is recommended, primarily, that surplus foodstuffs be donated to charity. Read more on the website of the Finnish Grocery Trade Association!


Contract template drawn up by the Natural Resources Institute Finland for co-operation between donors and recipients of foodstuffs

The Natural Resources Institute Finland has put together a communication guide “Tieto kiertämään”, consisting of tips and materials to support the communication between food aid actors. In addition to practical tips, the guide contains contract and document templates, such as the co-operation contract below.

Clear agreements help prevent any misunderstandings and build trust between the partners.


Instructions and contract templates by Satakunnan Yhteisökeskus

The clear instructions given by Satakunnan Yhteisökeskus provide practical tips for initiating co-operation between food donors and food aid distributors. The materials contain useful contract templates.

For more information