Skip to main content

Donating food and feeding our community safely

Food safety practices are very important in protecting the health of those you are helping when donating and preparing food for communities in need. It is important to register with us if you are a Donated Food Distributing Organization so that we can work together to keep our community safely fed.

Donated Food Distributing Organizations

Donated Food Distributing Organizations (DFDOs) are charitable non-profit organizations under section 501(c) of the federal Internal Revenue Code that distribute food free of charge. All DFDOs in King County must register with Public Health – Seattle & King County.

To register:

  1. Complete the DFDO annual notification and registration form (287 Kb). REGISTRATION IS FREE.
  2. Mail or email the completed notification form to:

    Public Health — Seattle & King County
    Attn: Thu Bui
    Environmental Health Services Division
    401 5th Avenue, Suite 1100
    Seattle, WA 98104


Include with your registration a valid copy of your 501(c) IRS determination letter or letter of sponsorship from another organization with a valid 501(c) IRS determination letter.

All DFDOs must:

  • Comply with Washington State food safety guidelines.
  • Not let employees or volunteers work while sick.
  • Practice good personal hygiene such as proper handwashing.
  • Receive or purchase only foods from approved sources such as from a licensed food establishment, food processors, or food prepared from a donor kitchen.
  • Cook foods at proper temperatures.
  • Clean utensils and equipment properly.
  • Prepare hot and cold Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods at proper temperatures. TCS foods include meat, poultry, cooked starches, cut melons, sprouts, fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures, dairy products, cut leafy greens, cut tomatoes, and cooked produce.

Need help? Contact us to discuss your food operation activities. We can help you plan for activities such as:

  • Cutting or preparing produce.
  • Monitoring and recording temperatures for hot or cold foods.
  • Cooking or heating foods.
  • Starting a new Donated Food Distributing Organization or receiving DFDO status.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I prepare food at my home or residential kitchen?

    Foods intended for donation at no cost must be safely prepared in a permittable kitchen. Most meals prepared at home (residential kitchen) are not permitted, except baked goods that do not require temperature control can be prepared at a residential kitchen.

  • Where can I find a Donor Kitchen or permittable kitchen to prepare foods to be donated?

    You may check with a faith-based organization kitchen, community center kitchen, existing DFDO kitchens, commissary kitchen or other licensed food establishments.

  • What food can I serve if I register as a Donated Food Distributing Organization?

    Most foods including Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods. The types of TCS foods you are permitted to serve depend on the equipment you have in your kitchen facility.

Additional resources