Affordable Housing Food Distribution Pilot Program

Pilot Program partnering food recovery organizations and services with Affordable Housing locations for recovered food distribution, with housing staff and volunteers managing food distribution to residents.

Pilot Program Summary

Joint Venture’s Food Recovery Initiative, with funding from and in partnership with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, is piloting a program that partners Food Recovery Organizations and/or Services (FRO/Ss) with affordable housing communities. This program aims to address barriers to accessing food faced by low-income residents living in affordable housing and to provide a new outlet for recovered food, including food recovered outside of regular food distribution hours.

The pilot will provide commercial fridges to three affordable housing locations in Santa Clara County (and also, in some cases, shelving for shelf-stable goods). Communication between FRO/Ss and the affordable housing community on the capacity of the fridge will be facilitated by a Fridge Status communication system built through Google Forms and Google Sheets. This system is designed to provide transparency into the real-time capacity of the refrigeration units at the affordable housing locations at any given time, avoiding the need for the partner FRO/S to make phone calls or to have food turned away upon arrival.

The pilot will prioritize prepared foods from Tier 2 businesses and organizations regulated under SB 1383. Based on commercial fridge capacity, we expect the housing units to each go through approximately 1,000 pounds of food per week. Food safety is a key priority of the pilot program. Staff of the affordable housing complex will be responsible for managing onsite food safety protocols, including fridge maintenance and supervised distribution of food (as opposed to a self-serve model). In this regard the program is distinct from “Community Fridges” or “Freedges.”

Application for Food Recovery Organization/Service Partners

We are currently accepting applications for one or two FRO/Ss to participate in the pilot program. A total of $20,000 in funding is available for FRO/S participation, which will be split according to level of participation if two organizations are selected. You will have an opportunity in the application to indicate if you are open to fulfilling the full responsibility, or are interested in sharing responsibility and funding with another organization. The deliverables for this contract are as follows:

  • Provide feedback on the communication system and other aspects of the pilot before, during and after implementation.
  • Ensure your staff are trained on the communication system and protocol for delivering recovered food to affordable housing locations. (Share training summary with Joint Venture.)
  • Utilize the new communication system and ensure the housing unit fridge(s) remains stocked (we estimate 40 - 60 deliveries per location over the course of the pilot, which is approximately three drop offs per week between May 1 and September 30).
  • Find, recruit, and train up to three new food donors (per housing community), taking the dietary preferences of the housing unit residents and nutritional content into consideration. (Food sources and established delivery system shared with Joint Venture ahead of first delivery.) We expect, to the extent possible, for the fridges to be stocked with a diversity of foods and for baked goods to be limited.
  • Track pounds and categories of food distributed through the program. (Data shared with Joint Venture on a monthly basis.)

It is important that the participating FRO/Ss commit to making a good faith effort to continue the program beyond the pilot phase, incorporating it into their regular activities.


Please email any questions about the pilot program or the application to Ciara Low, , by December 20, 2022 at 5pm. We will post answers to the questions here on the Joint Venture website by December 31, 2022.

How To Apply

To submit an application, please download and complete the application form, save your submission as a PDF and email to . The deadline for proposal submission is January 13, 2023 at 5pm.

Download the application form

Food Recovery Initiative

Joint Venture’s Food Recovery Initiative helps to make nutritious surplus food safely and conveniently available to our neighbors who need it most, while minimizing the environmental impacts of wasted food. The Initiative strengthens the local food recovery ecosystem by spurring funding and innovation; propagating food waste prevention and recovery strategies; and supporting government programs focused on the food sector. By convening the Food Recovery Council and Steering Committee and managing the Santa Clara County Food Recovery Program, the initiative amplifies the efforts of food recovery organizations, local jurisdictions, and businesses in the fight against food waste. Our recent report Making the Most of Surplus Food lays out recommendations to expand existing intervention strategies and to test new ones, built on a solid foundation of expertise, data, and analysis.