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Food and Farm Council of Riley County and City of Manhattan

Flint Hills Food Recovery

Restaurants, caterers and grocery stores often have an overabundance of food. All too often, this extra food — although perfectly edible — is wasted. Instead of throwing away nutritious food, food recovery redistributes it to the places that need it, including food pantries, crisis centers or community meal programs.

Flint Hills Food Recovery is committed to bridging the gap between abundance and need by facilitating the rescue and transfer of edible food that would otherwise go to waste. We work to efficiently connect this food directly to the local community organizations and programs where it can have the greatest impact.

We use an app called ChowMatch to connect food businesses with food assistance organizations. Donors (such as restaurants and caterers) enter their untouched surplus food into ChowMatch, and volunteers deliver it to recipients (such as food pantries and emergency shelters). The app coordinates connections between partners, and all partners follow standard food safety guidelines.

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Flint Hills Food Recovery

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in Flint Hills Food Recovery (FHFR)?

Riley County and the City of Manhattan-licensed food businesses including caterers, grocers, farmers, farmers’ markets, restaurants, and other institutions can donate food to the system. Food assistance/social service organizations that provide food to people in need of supplemental food in Riley County and the City of Manhattan can receive food from the system. Individuals over the age of 18, licensed to drive a vehicle, can volunteer as food runners and transport donated food from food businesses to recipient food assistance agencies.

Can I as an individual donate food?

No. Only licensed food businesses can donate food to FHFR. However, we encourage individuals to reach out to specific agencies to inquire about private donation opportunities.

Can businesses outside of Riley County and the City of Manhattan participate in FHFR?

No. Only businesses inside Riley County and the City of Manhattan can participate in FHFR. However, we encourage businesses outside of the area to reach out to specific agencies to inquire about private donation opportunities.

Are participants protected from liability if individuals get sick from eating donated food?

Yes. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, established in 1996, protects businesses that donate food in good faith from being held liable should someone become sick from the food. The only exception to the law is in the case of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Can businesses take a tax deduction when they donate food?

Yes. In 1976, Congress enacted Internal Revenue Code, Section 170e3, as an incentive so that qualified businesses can take an enhanced tax deduction for fit and wholesome food inventory donated to qualified 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that serve people experiencing poverty and hunger. These businesses can deduct the production costs of the donated food and, as an enhancement, half the difference between the cost and the full fair market value of food donated. The America Gives More Act of 2015 includes permanent tax deductions for all food donor businesses. To access tax information about food donated to FHFR, donors should visit their ChowMatch donor account page.

How does the food recovery matching software work?

ChowMatch is an automated matching system, accessible through both a web browser and a mobile app. Matches are made in real-time, based on the participants’ profiles as donors, recipients, or volunteer food runners. The matching criteria include the type of food, quantity, proximity, timing availability, and transportation capacity. ChowMatch also aggregates metrics so that FHFR network members can receive totals on their food recovery activity, helpful for non-profits reporting to funders and for donors for tax deductions.

What are the advantages of joining FHFR and using ChowMatch?

  • Receive more food and new types of food to supply to community members in need by matching with new donors through the web-based app.

  • Automate the matching process, reducing the time and labor spent on this task.

  • Easily accessible tax donation information.

  • Enhance your organization’s capacity to pick up donated food with FHFR volunteer food runners.

  • Contribute to decreasing the amount of food that is wasted.

  • Increase your organization’s visibility by being part of FHFR as the county’s designated food recovery system and receiving FHFR recognition.

  • Receive support and learn from your peers as part of a county-wide food recovery system.

I already donate food to a particular group. How can I continue to donate to this group and participate in FHFR?

Donors can identify specific recipient groups to receive food donations while posting a donation to ChowMatch. Donors can indicate a recipient group by clicking “Select Recipient” under the Additional Options tab on the Schedule Food Run page. This option will override recipient group profile settings and a donation will be scheduled even if it does not match the preferences listed in a recipient site’s profile. Donors can indicate preferred recipient sites by clicking “Select Recipient Options” on page two of Schedule Food Runs. Enter the preferred recipient site into “Add a New Recipient Relationship.” Creating relationships will match a donation to the preferred recipient site if the recipient’s profile matches the donation.

What kinds of food can be donated?

Dairy products, raw or cooked meats, fresh produce, dry goods, prepared foods, and bakery foods may be donated. Food must be donated by a licensed food establishment, handled in a food-safe manner, and must be of acceptable quality within its expiration date.

What is the minimum amount of food that can be donated? Is there a maximum amount?

Minimum donations must weigh 10 pounds, or be equal to 1 tray, or 1 pan. There is no system maximum to the amount of food that can be donated but individual recipient sites may have a maximum amount they can receive. If a large donation is unable to be matched, consider dividing the donation into two or more separate, smaller donations.

How is this food kept safe?

All donated food comes from a licensed food establishment and is subject to local and statewide food safety requirements. Donated food is packaged in a manner to protect it from external contamination. Volunteer food runners must complete food safety training before their first run.

How can I get involved?

Groups or individuals can get involved by completing a profile on From this platform, users can select how they would like to be involved (donating food, receiving food, or transporting food). Users can create multiple profiles if they wish to serve in multiple functions.

How long will a food run take?

Timing will vary based on the size of the donation and the distance between donor and recipient sites. Most food runs will take between 30-60 minutes to complete.

I am a volunteer food runner and I need to deliver/retrieve food from the walk-in. Where is this? How do I get in?

The walk-in refrigerator/freezer is located next to the lower level of the Riley County Family and Child Resource Center which is located at 2101 Claflin Road, Manhattan, KS 66502. Access to the unit is protected by a coded lock. The code to access the unit is provided in the delivery or pickup instructions. This code is changed frequently.

I’m still confused. Who should I reach out to for help?

Vickie James, 620-397-3901 or


32,000 lbs of food recovered since start up 20 months ago


“To have the ChowMatch app and the ability to donate food easily in our community is one of the greatest things we’ve achieved in Riley County. To be able to recover perfectly good food to help feed individuals is amazing.”

Robert Locke, Rockin K’s Kitchen Manager and Blake Drueker, General Manager

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