Growing and donating fresh produce requires extra attention to issues of food safety. Montana State University SNAP-Ed staff developed the following list of basic food safety recommendations for donation gardens. We encourage you to print the donation garden food safety infographic to display at your garden.

Food safety practices are extensive, so we provide below an additional set of tools, webinars, and publications developed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs that can guide your food safety procedures in the garden and on the way to the food pantry. We hope these tools are beneficial; please contact us if you would like to see additional resources developed or added to this list. 

Recommendation 1:

Keep pets and wild animals away from plots.

Recommendation 2:

Use municipal (drinking) water to rinse and remove visible dirt from produce.

Recommendation 3:

Harvest produce into properly cleaned and sanitized bins using clean utensils.

Recommendation 4: 

Wash hands before and after handling produce.

Recommendation 5:

Compost or discard bruised or damaged produce.

Recommendation 6:

Transport produce to food pantry in a clean, covered vehicle.

Recommendation 7:

Personal Hygiene:

  • Restrain hair
  • No eating, smoking, or chewing tobacco on facility grounds
  • Do not work while sick (fever, diarrhea, etc.)
  • No excessive jewelry
  • Wear clean clothing

Getting Started - Resources from ISU Extension and Outreach

Food Security in Iowa: Best Practices for Food Safety - 2016 ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener webinar from Dr. Shannon Coleman and Susan DeBlieck on food safety practices  for donation gardening.

Growing and Harvesting Vegetables - 2017 ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener webinar excerpt from Dr. Shannon Coleman. Contains background information on food safety, as well as recommended practices for garden vegetables pre-harvest, during harvest, and post-harvest.

Growing Together: Food Safety in Donation Gardens - Infographic developed by Dr. Shannon Coleman overviewing essential food safety practices for donation gardens. The infographic can be downloaded in PDF format and printed for display at your community donation garden, or for distribution to donation gardening participants.

Food Pantry Produce Donations - Grower Information

Make Food Safety a Priority in Your School Garden

On-Farm Food Safety: Cleaning and Sanitizing Guide

On-Farm Food Safety: Food Handling Guide

Additional Food Safety Resources from ISU Extension and Outreach

Food Safety Practices PDF version

This information has been modified from documents that were researched and written by Carrie Chennault. Reviewers and additional contributors: Shannon Coleman, Thabhisa Mazur, Christine Hradek, Caitlin Szymanski, and Susan DeBlieck. Copyright 2018, Iowa State University SNAP-Ed and Master Gardener programs.

This Institution Is An Equal Opportunity Provider.