Food Rescue Grants

Program snapshot

Category: Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 

Amounts: Up to $500,000 per grant with a total funding pool of up to $2.37 million.

Eligibility: Food rescue organisations, food relief and coordinating organisations including not-for-profits, NSW councils, NSW local government regional waste groups or regional organisations of councils.


Status: Closed for applications

Managed by: NSW Environment Protection Authority


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is working to reduce good quality food suitable for human consumption from being disposed to landfill. The Food Rescue Grants are available to expand food rescue and relief capacity to safely manage increasing amounts of rescued food in NSW. The grants are part of a suite of organics programs available to support NSW to halve organics waste to landfill by 2030.

The objectives of this grant are to:

  • increase the diversion (i.e. rescue) of quality food suitable for human consumption from landfill
  • support NSW food rescue and relief organisations to expand their capacity to manage increasing amounts of rescued food to provide to the community.

Funding available

If sufficient program funds remain after round one of the grant program, there may be future rounds of funding. Noting, an applicant can only receive funding once under this grant program.

This is an open and competitive grant program. Regions with less food donation activities may be prioritised.

Funding will be up to 90% of eligible project costs and be tiered to provide:

  • up to $100,000 (exc. GST; $110,000 inc. GST) grant funding for a Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation
  • up to $500,000 (exc. GST; $550,000 inc. GST) grant funding for a Coordinating Organisation.

A co-contribution of at least 10% towards eligible project costs is required. This co-contribution can be financial or in-kind contributions, or a combination of the two. In-kind contributions may include:

  • project related staff labour, project management and/or grant administration costs
  • unpaid labour from volunteers, see the Centre for Volunteering’s Cost of Volunteering Calculator for estimating costs, the current estimation of volunteers’ per-hour value is $43.27.

If you are a Coordinating Organisation applying for up to $500,000 (exc. GST) funding, there will be the expectation that the project will support at least:

  • three Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisations in the first 12 months of the project
  • five Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisations in the second 12 months; and
  • more than 10 Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisations thereafter. Note: If a coordinator application demonstrates there are less than 10 organisations to support in the local/ regional area, this expectation may be reviewed on a case-by-case situation.

If the applicant or any organisation it represents is GST registered, GST will be eligible to be claimed on purchases made with grant funding.

If the applicant or any organisation it represents is not GST registered, GST will not be eligible to be claimed. In this case, grant funding will exclude GST and GST costs on purchases will have to be funded separately by the applicant. Registering for GST is free. Non-registered organisations should seek advice from the Australian Tax Office

If recommended by the independent grant assessment committee, grant offers may be less than the application amount. All final funding decisions are at the discretion of the NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer.

Information session

Application form 

Applications must be submitted through SmartyGrants

Submission of an application does not guarantee funding. By applying, the applicant agrees to and will comply with all terms and conditions in these guidelines and the Funding Deed template (PDF 751KB).

Costs of preparing and applying for the grant are the sole responsibility of the applicant. All decisions on the successful applicants made are at the discretion of the NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer and are considered final.

Applicants may also set up a SmartyFile account to allow team members to work together on SmartyGrants applications.

If you experience technical difficulty creating a SmartyGrants or SmartyFile account, please contact SmartyGrants on (03) 9320 6888.

Apply via SmartyGrants


These guidelines can also be downloaded as pdf 

By 2030, food, garden, and textile waste is estimated to generate 3.7 million tonnes of CO2-e landfill emissions across NSW, and without intervention this waste is set to increase. The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 (WaSM) sets targets to halve organics waste sent to landfill, including through increased support for food rescue and relief and the allocation of $4 million to increase rescued food donations.

The National Food Waste Baseline shows that in NSW approximately 1.7 million tonnes of food waste is produced each year, and although around 70% of this food waste is edible, more than half is still ending up in landfill.

The new Food Rescue Grant program builds on lessons learnt from the food donation programs delivered from 2013-21 under the Waste Less, Recycle More funding. A total of $6.2 million was awarded to 62 infrastructure and education projects, recovering 11,000 tonnes more surplus food in NSW each year, the equivalent of 22 million meals.

This grant program provides a funding pool of up to $2.37 million to support the NSW food rescue and relief sector to expand their capacity to safely manage increasing amounts of rescued food as supply increases. Grants are intended to support new infrastructure, equipment, education and collaboration to divert additional quality food from landfill.

In combination with this grant program, the EPA will be delivering a range of resources to support food donation, rescue and relief, including:

  • establishing the Food Rescue Rebates program, a simplified funding alternative for smaller food rescue and relief projects
  • resources for businesses and Bin Trim waste assessors to connect more food donors with food rescue and/or relief organisations
  • online resources, case studies and food donation, rescue and relief information
  • updated guidance on ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates
  • updating guidance on the Civil Liability Act 2002

For the purpose of this grant program:

Capacity means the amount of a Rescued Food that is physically able to be rescued, stored, processed and/or redistributed by the grant applicant.

Coordinating Organisation means individual not-for-profit organisations, local councils, local government regional waste groups or regional organisation of councils acting on behalf of or coordinating a group of three or more Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisations.

EPA means the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority.

Food Donor means a business who donates good quality food suitable for human consumption to Food Relief and/or Food Rescue Organisations.    

Food Relief Organisation is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free or low-cost Rescued Food directly to the community (e.g. meals, community kitchens, hampers, pantries etc.), and meets the following criteria. A Food Relief Organisation must:

Food Rescue Organisation is a not-for-profit organisation that collect and distribute rescued food from Food Donors and either deliver it directly to Food Relief Organisations or store it in warehouses, ready for distribution to Food Relief Organisations, and meets the following criteria. Noting a Food Rescue Organisation many also be a Food Relief Organisation, a Food Rescue Organisation must:

Rescued food means collecting (i.e. rescuing) good quality food suitable for human consumption from a Donor preventing it from being disposed to landfill.

Eligible applicants must be:

  1. operating in NSW with an active Australian Business Number (ABN) for at least six months
  2. the entity that will take responsibility for the delivery of the grant project and associated costs
  3. a new applicant that has not received funding under this grant program
  4. a NSW:
    • Food Rescue Organisation; or
    • Food Relief Organisation; or
    • Coordinating Organisation that is a not-for-profit, local council, local government regional waste group or regional organisation of councils acting on behalf of three or more NSW Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation.

If applying as a Coordinating Organisation:

  • a signed letter or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is required with each Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation before the signing of a Funding Deed.
  • if changes to the number of participating Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation occurs, it is the responsibility of the applying Coordinating Organisation to maintain support for at least three Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation in the first year of the project.
  • if the project is a multi-year project, the number of participating Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation is expected to increase. Note: Coordinating Organisations are expected to increase the number of participating Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation each year, for example with a target of supporting at least three Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation in the first 12 months, at least five in the second 12 months, and more than 10 thereafter.

Grant applicants must nominate and justify the percentage of total grant funding to be used for project management expenses relative to other project expenses like infrastructure and equipment.

Organisations who have previously received EPA Food Donation infrastructure or education related funding under Waste Less Recycle More are eligible to apply for this grant program on the basis that they will deliver new or expanded operations not covered by previous funding.

An applicant can only receive funding once under this grant program. However, a Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation may apply for funding towards an individual grant of up to $100,000 and also participate in a coordinated grant delivered by another applicant that will deliver new or expanded operations not covered by previous Food Rescue Grant funding.

We are looking for innovative solutions to increase the amount of rescued food in NSW.

If you are a single Food Rescue and/or Relief Organisation, you may have identified the need for a new electric vehicle to increase collections and safe food storage in transit. Or increased refrigeration, freezer areas or shelving for safe food storage.

You may have identified a need to increase streamlined food rescue collections using a coordinated regional approach and new technology to support the coordination.

Eligible projects must:

  1. be submitted using SmartyGrants
  2. divert an increasing amount of rescued food (i.e., more than is currently rescue in a typical week) from landfill to the community
  3. increase your capacity to rescue, store, process and/or redistribute rescued food that would otherwise be sent to landfill
  4. be delivered in NSW by an eligible applicant
  5. be adequately resourced for the life of the proposed project, having the ability to manage and complete the project including the budgeting, reporting and acquittal requirements
  6. include education aimed to increase food donation, rescue and/or relief awareness and amounts of rescued food
  7. disclose any other funding from other government programs relating to this project; and
  8. be completed and with all final reporting submitted by 1 May 2027 or earlier.

If intending to apply for funding as a Coordinating Organisation, before applying, it is recommended applicants review the online Healthy Cities Illawarra - Regional Food Donation Coordinator Pilot report and guide.

Eligible project costs include:

  • infrastructure and equipment that will contribute to increased capacity of a Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisation to rescue, store, process and/or redistribute increasing amounts of rescued food from food donors to the community. This may include, but is not limited to:
    • the purchase or lease of delivery electric vehicles such as refrigerated vans or small trucks
    • in-vehicle refrigeration
    • upgraded refrigeration and/or freezer equipment to improve energy efficiency
    • warehouse shelving
    • forklifts and stationary machinery.
  • food donation, rescue and relief related education and resources
  • staff and/or project management costs, noting applicants must nominate and justify the percentage of total grant funding use for this, with as much funding as possible toward increasing the Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisations capacity to manage additional rescued food
  • costs associated with securing new rescued food supply from Food Donors
  • costs associated with technology and/or system development to improve operational efficiency, including data collection and storage of data  
  • costs associated with feasibility studies to assess opportunities for building a Food Rescue and/or Food Relief Organisation’s operational capacity to manage increasing amounts of rescued food. This may be through the identification of operational efficiencies, assessment of existing and proposed infrastructure etc.

Feasibility studies must demonstrate how increased capacity can be sustained in the long term without ongoing government funding, including how to manage ongoing costs. For example, a cost benefit analysis comparing freighting to leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle would also need to include how to manage ongoing expenses without future government funding.

All equipment must be owned or leased by the applicant. All vehicles must be registered and insured in the name of the applicant.

If intending to lease or purchase a vehicle with grant funding the applicant must demonstrate this is the best operating model for the organisation. We encourage the applicant to consider lease to buy options, noting the grant can only be used to lease the vehicle until 1 May 2027. We note that funding cannot be used for early termination fees or end of lease fees.

Successful applicants must use project funding solely for eligible project costs specified in the Funding Deed for the project, otherwise reimbursement to the EPA may be required. See Grant conditions below.

Ineligible projects and costs include:

  • infrastructure, equipment and activities that:
    • are already purchased before the Funding Deed is signed
    • are outside of NSW
    • do not include rescued food
    • are intended for use with non-food items
    • are intended for food other than for human consumption
  • food waste disposal (e.g. composting equipment) or food waste reuse opportunities (e.g., remanufacture, valorisation, animal feed production etc). Please refer to the EPA Bin Trim program for waste support options
  • the purchase of food or land
  • operational expenses including e.g. rent, fuel, electricity, insurance, services, housekeeping
  • statutory requirements such as development consent, operating licenses, or compliance
  • education, research and marketing costs not directly related to the project
  • financial auditor costs such as third-party accountants providing endorsement on the project’s expenditure and costs associated with the development of the grant application.

Applications that do not satisfy all eligibility conditions will be deemed ineligible and will not be funded. Only eligible project costs, under an eligible project will be considered.

This is an open and competitive grant program with no guarantee that applications will be funded or funded in full.

Reporting and acquittal must be submitted online using SmartyGrants.

Successful grants will be paid in three milestone payments. The successful applicant will submit the required evidence for each milestone (detailed in the Funding Deed) and if approved by the EPA, may be eligible for grant milestone payments. Milestones payments include:

  • Milestone 1: 50% of the grant amount will be paid on execution of the Funding Deed and agreed evidence of how the project will progress and data tracking will be achieved.
  • Milestone 2: 40% will be paid after the EPA approves grantee required reporting, including evidence of expenditure and evidence of the project progress and data tracking.
  • Milestone 3: 10% final payment after the EPA approves grantee required reporting including final evidence of expenditure and outcomes including the additional amounts of rescued food diverted from landfill.

Milestone reporting is to be submitted online via SmartyGrants. The Milestone 3 report, or parts of it, may be published on the EPA website to encourage knowledge sharing.

Grantees will have the opportunity for regular project meetings with the EPA to discuss questions, roadblocks, and new situations that may affect the project outcomes, budget, or timeline etc.

After completion of the grant program and payment of the final milestone payment, grantees may be asked to participate in a Food Rescue survey to review the program, released at the discretion of the EPA.  Feedback will be used to assess the success of the program in meeting objectives and shape future program design. Informal feedback may also be sought to input into the EPA’s annual review of the Food Rescue grant program.

In addition to eligibility requirements, successful applicants will need to sign and return a Funding Deed confirming commitment to comply with conditions of the funding, including:

  • continue to comply with the eligibility criteria for the length of the grant agreement or pay back the funding
  • reporting as described in the reporting and milestone payments section (above)
  • hold appropriate insurance and public liability coverage for the duration of the grant
  • acknowledge the support of the NSW Government on publications relating to the project, in accordance with the Funding Deed; and 
  • invite an NSW Government representative to any launch or public event associated with this funding.

See the Funding Deed template (PDF 751KB). Although the terms of the Funding Deed are non-negotiable, minor changes may be made to:

  • the Special Conditions, if required by the grant assessing committee; and
  • Schedule A – Approved Project Activities, Table A.
Key dates Grant stages

18 March 2024

Applications open

Tuesday 26 March, 12pm-1pm

Grant information session

19 April 2024

Applications close via SmartyGrants by 4pm

April - May 2024

Assessment process

May 2024

Applicants are notified of the assessment outcome

1 May 2027, no later than

Projects completed with final reports submitted for acquittal

Applications will undergo an eligibility check before being reviewed by an independent grant assessing committee using the criteria set out below. The dot points provide additional information on the types of expected information (at a minimum) for each criterion.

Criteria Expected information

Project objectives

  • Clear aims and objectives relating to increasing food rescue and diversion of good quality food suitable for human consumption from landfill
  • Clear description of existing food rescue and/or relief support and how the proposed new grant activities will increase rescued food
  • Clear amount of how much additional rescued food is proposed by the project e.g. if the organisation currently purchases 60% of the food and rescues 40% to provide 100 meals a day, three days a week before the project, after the project what is the proposed percentage increase for the rescued food and how many meals a day?

Planning and implementation

  • Clear description of research and planning undertaken to identify the need for the project and the proposed activities
  • Well documented strategy to identify, engage and retain new rescued food donors and/or increasing donations from existing food donors
  • Ongoing education and communication strategy, including actions like how food donors will be informed of the positive impacts of their food donations
  • Detailed budget with at least 10% co-contribution and represents good value for money
  • Clear and realistic project timeline with proposed key stages/milestones
  • Adequately resourced and experienced project team
  • Appropriate consideration of project risks and identification of suitable mitigation measures

Monitoring and outcomes

  • Clear commitment to monitor, evaluate and report on project progress and outcomes

In 2023, Healthy Cities Illawarra completed a Regional Food Donation Coordinator Pilot.

If considering a coordinator role, we recommend considering the final report and guide before submitting a grant application.