Best 'Green' Concessions Practice: First Place

Portland Food Donations Program

Portland International Airport



The Port of Portland, which operates Portland International Airport, conducts waste sorts to get a sense for what is actually in the waste collection bins at the airport.  During a waste sort in 2012, the team observed high-quality, nutritional foods – fresh sandwiches, salads, breakfast pastries and parfaits – in the compost waste stream. The airport wanted to see if there was a way to make sure good food got into the hands of people who needed it.  Working with St. Vincent de Paul of Portland, the airport was able find a way to get food out quickly to meal programs while overcoming potential challenges such as food safety, liability, and airport security access. The program has been well-received and has donated almost 13,000 pounds of food in its first six months, which is equivalent to just over 8,600 meals.


Currently, 77 percent of concession locations in the Portland terminal building are participating.  St. Vincent de Paul comes out to the airport three times per week to collect the donated food. With a pick-up route in place, the airport’s operator is reaching out to the airport’s neighboring businesses, including flight kitchens, hotels with catering services, and restaurants in an adjacent shopping mall to encourage them to participate in the program.  The food has been serving four local meal programs. 


The airport has provided a space for food collection and facilitated relationships between St. Vincent de Paul and concessionaires at PDX.   Concessions employees place the donated food in a cooler (or cabinet for dry goods) and assist in documenting cooler temperatures to ensure food safety.


PDX concessions employees do not like wasting food, but it was a challenging problem for an individual employee or tenant to solve. The airport was able to identify an opportunity, learn from other food donation program models, and facilitate a mutually beneficial and highly successful relationship between St. Vincent de Paul and PDX concessions tenants.


 The program is a great example of sustainability in action. It reduces waste and provides an undeniable community benefit to local organizations fighting hunger.  Further, the food donation program also can save the Port money through reduced landfill and compost handling costs. The airport also hopes that the program will increase awareness among concessionaires about how to manage their food products more efficiently and conservatively.

By the Numbers:

Pounds collected in first six months: 13,000

Meals served from donated food: 8,600

Participating concessionaires: 77%

ACI-NA Board Chair Mark Reis and Interim ACI-NA President Debby McElroy present the 2013 first place award for Best ‘Green’ Concession Practice to Stan Jones and Walt Marchbanks from Portland International Airport for its food donation program.