What is REAP?

OzHarvest created REAP in 2011 as a regional food rescue toolkit. Numerous volunteer REAP teams around Australia are now using OzHarvest’s ‘Best Practice’ model to the benefit of their community and the planet. As the leader in the food rescue sector OzHarvest has developed this program to share our expertise and knowledge on how to rescue good food to feed people in need.

REAP lets you ensure good food does not go to waste.
REAP provides you with the know-how to rescue food and feed people in need.
REAP promotes effective community collaboration.

For information on food safety, our 3-step process for setting up a food rescue project, legal information and some example case studies please read our FAQs on this page which offer some general insights into what we do or you can click directly to our Tools.



Contact about Chapters


I want to reduce waste and help provide food to those in need in my area. Where do I begin to set up a local food rescue program?

Right here! We outline the best way to do this on this site and with our mentoring and support.

Read through our website and if you are interested in hearing more and getting involved, please email us at [email protected].

Congratulations on joining the REAP food rescue community!

Should I give food to anyone who asks for it? Surely there are needy individuals and families who could use this food as well as charitable agencies?

OzHarvest only gives food to registered charities and we recommend doing the same. Agencies are more likely to hold appropriate insurance to protect you and the food donor, and to be experienced in handling food correctly and understand safe food handling.

Ok - I have identified a local agency. What next?

Talk to them! Explain to local agencies what you are trying to do and find out if they are interested in receiving rescued food from the REAP program.

Different agencies will have different needs, and may only be able to use certain foods – e.g. if an agency doesn’t have a fully equipped kitchen, they may only be able to take ready prepared or already cooked food items.

I am not sure that the food I am being offered by my donor is of adequate standard for consumption, or looks unappetizing. What should I do?

If the food offered looks or smells unappealing, or you think it is off – please decline the donation. Explain in a pleasant and professional manner why you think the food is not up to standard or point out if it is out of date. Always thank the donor for the offer and ask them to let you know in the future when they have other excess food. Your aim is to collect food that is healthy and nutritious.

What do I need to consider when storing or distributing the food?

Check out the food safety information in our Tools area on this site. You should deliver all food items on the day they are donated to you. Perishable food should be transported and stored in an esky or cooler boxes. Perishable food and meat should always be labelled with the date and time of collection and a description of the contents. Extra special precautions need to be taken with perishable foods and meats. Please contact us to discuss the planning and logistics that this involves.

Should I store food?

No. We do not recommend it. Aim to deliver all food collected on the same day. Check out our food safety information document. Perishable food and meat should always be labelled with the date and time of collection and a description of the contents.

My food donors say they do not know when they will have leftover food. What should I do?

Once you have made contact with a food donor and have agreed to collect any excess food then ask about setting up a regular pick up – it may be once a week or more frequently. You may also like to ring them on the morning or a few hours in advance of any planned collection. This will also remind them that you are coming and they can then have food ready for collection when you arrive.

Are there any foods I should avoid collecting? Why?

Check with the charity you are collecting for – there may be food that they do not want or cannot use.

Shellfish and cooked rice are both high risk items for bacteria and OzHarvest does not collect these foods for that reason.

Also OzHarvest does not collect any alcohol or food products with alcohol in them due to the clients of many of our agencies.

Talk with your recipient agency for any food requirements they have, for example do they have kitchen facilities and refrigeration and what food do they usually provide for the people that they serve?

Do I need a permit to start a Food Rescue service?

No, you will be rescuing food as a REAP by OzHarvest volunteer and working within our food safety and volunteering guidelines.

Can I charge for the food I am collecting to offset my costs?

No. The principles of food rescue are:

  • you collect and deliver surplus food for free
  • food is provided by the food donor for free
  • food is delivered to the agency for free
  • the agency provides the food to the people they serve for free

In addition civil liability protection is offered to food donors who donate food for free. Please see our legal information document in our Tools section.

Can my agencies charge their clients for food that I have delivered?

No. Civil liability protection is offered to food donors who donate food for free on the understanding that the receiver of the food does not have to pay for the food. The receiver of the food here are the clients of the agencies. Please see our legal information section.

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