Frequently Asked Questions


If your question isn’t answered here, or you have feedback for how we can make the site easier to use, feel free to email us at [email protected] or give us a call or text at  (202)449-1507. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

What does MEANS stand for?

MEANS stands for Matching Excess and Need for Stability. The brand name was created by co-founders Maria Rose and Grant Nelson. 

How does the system work?

Users tell us where they are, what they need, and how far they’re willing to travel to pick up any donations. If/when any food fitting those parameters becomes available on the system, you get an email about it.

Where are we working?

We have users in 49 states & DC and counting. Find out more by clicking here.

Is this for a food pantry rather than a food bank?

Both- once we moved 3300 pounds of juice, which is too large of a donation for most food pantries to handle, but it was perfect for a food bank. We also move a lot of smaller quantities of food, which are great for food pantries.

Do you charge anything?

NO. We do not charge emergency food providers for using our system or donors for posting about their extra food. Our platform is completely free for users.

Where is my confirmation email?

Sometimes your confirmation email can get stuck in your spam filter. To have the website resend your confirmation email click here. If after a few minutes you still have not received your confirmation email, please reach out to technical support here.

How do you police quality?

The MEANS Database can’t personally check every donation, so after every transaction the donor and recipient both rate each other. So, if a donor consistently mischaracterizes the nature of their donation, or if a recipient fails to follow-through and pickup an item, they will receive bad ratings. We look into donors and recipients with consistently bad ratings.

How do you know what food I can and cannot donate?

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act states that donations of “apparently wholesome food donated in good faith to a nonprofit organization” will be protected donations.

How does MEANS protect donors from liability?

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (the Emerson Act) provides federal protection for food donors who donate to verified nonprofits. MEANS verifies that anyone claiming items via MEANS Database is a qualifying nonprofit under the Emerson Act, protecting donors. Donated food must be “apparently wholesome” or an “apparently fit grocery product” and meet “all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations,” even if it is not “readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions. MEANS requires donors to check a box and certify items this way each time they donate.

Do you deliver the food?

Not yet. We’re working slowly but surely to be able to provide transportation. We have a pilot program in Philadelphia. For now, we’re an information layer – we’re able to tell you exactly who has the kind of food you need where you’re willing to go. Some donors are able to transport the food, but not necessarily all donors.

Can the donor deliver?

It will say on the email whether the donor is able to deliver on the posting. In Philadelphia, our transportation partner Food Connect provides transportation of all donations.

Spam/Email filters?

NOPE. The only emails users get from us are when we have the kind of food they’ve told us they need. No newsletters (unless you sign up for it here), no spam – just free food.

How is MEANS funded?

As a 501(c)3, any donation to us is tax-deductible. We were kickstarted by the 2015 George Washington University’s Business Plan Competition. Other organizations that have supported our work include: the Kellogg’s Foundation, APT Charities, Valley Venture Mentors, Venturewell, and ELCA.


4410 Massachusetts Ave NW #397

Washington, DC 20016