The uncertainty of not knowing where one’s next meal will come from is a reality in the greater Omaha area.


One in 7 people in Douglas County struggle with food insecurity.


The Environmental Protection Agency estimates more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash.

Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue believes it just makes sense to feed the hungry with excess perishable food that would otherwise be wasted.

Our grassroots efforts began with three food donors, and the food we picked up from them was delivered to three local food pantries. By the time we celebrated our fifth birthday on Sept. 30, 2018, our food donor network had expanded to 51 locations of grocery stores, wholesalers, convenience stores, event venues, caterers, restaurants, schools and other food purveyors. Using refrigerated trucks, our professional drivers/food handlers pick up the donated dairy products, fruits and vegetables, prepared and packaged meals, meats and other healthy foods and deliver them the same day, free of charge, to local nonprofits that feed the hungry. We currently partner with 37 local shelters, food pantries, senior citizen centers, after-school programs, transitional living facilities and other nonprofit agencies operating at 40 locations.


Beth is an accomplished professional with over 25 years of experience in business leadership, management and sales and 15 years of leadership in the development of two local nonprofit organizations. She is an articulate communicator with a proven ability to leverage relationships with diverse levels of clients, management, staff and community leaders. Beth was awarded the 2013 SCORE “Sam Epstein” Entrepreneur Award, Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center’s 2014 Start-up Assistance Grant and she is a Nebraska Advisory Committee Member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Beth’s mission is to collaborate with others in our community to build organizations that will offer a brighter future for our community. Beth’s previous nonprofit focus was in promoting corporate involvement and education goals with our most challenged elementary students. With Saving Grace, her focus is to help feed our community’s nutritional needs while saving our landfills.

Beth Ostdiek Smith
CEO and Founder
Judy brings a wealth of knowledge to Saving Grace with over 11 years experience as Director of Field Operations at a perishable food rescue in Phoenix, Arizona. This includes managing the food rescue at the 2008 Super Bowl in Arizona. Judy oversees every facet of the daily program operations from managing our professional food haulers, truck maintenance, tracking food donations, seeking out new food donors and interviewing new food recipient partners. Judy coordinates the daily pickup and delivery schedules while building relationships for open communication with our food partners.
Judy Rydberg
Field and Logistics Director
Tracy joined the Saving Grace staff in June 2018.
Tracy Wells
Development Director
Randy joined the team in May 2015, bringing with him past experience working as kitchen manager at a local restaurant and with a courier service. Randy brings his self-starter management style and great communication skills to work with our many food partners. Our clients continue to praise his friendly professionalism.
Randy Hansen
Route Driver/Food Handler
Mike joined Saving Grace in February 2017. Mike brings many years experience in the grocery industry. He uses that experience to contibute to our community at large working with our food donation vendors and our nonprofit partners.
Michael Magnuson
Route Driver/Food Handler
Stacey joined Saving Grace in 2018.
Stacey Lee
Route Driver/Food Handler


Beth Ostdiek Smith • President/CEO & Founder, Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue
Lenli Corbett • Chair, Champions of Aging
Peggy Dunn • Vice Chair Elect, Farm Credit Services of America
Laurie Hellbusch • Treasurer, Spirit World
Michael Hemenway • Secretary, Woodman of the World
Denise HillPPIC
Erik BirdDNA Leadership Development
Summer Miller Simply Recipes, Inc.
Anna CramerNebraska Medicine


Ellie Archer • Chair, Women’s Fund of Omaha (retired)
Carol RussellCommunity Volunteer
Larry JohnsonFirestone (formerly Nebraska Trucking Association)
Pete FestersenOmaha City Council and CHI Health
My BoesBoes Art
Anne HubbardClaire M. Hubbard Foundation
Vic GutmanVGA Group
Nancy NoddleCommunity Volunteer (Emerita)


Audrey Riddle • Virtual Assistant/Social Media
Sherry Thompson • Communications/Grant Writer
Denise HoustonHouston & Houston Accounting

Registered Agent for 501 C3 Corporation:

Christopher D, Curzon, EsquireSmith, Gardner, Slusky, Lazer, Pohren & Regers, LLP

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Saving Grace a food bank?

No, however, we collaborate with area food banks in the overall food recovery efforts of the Greater Omaha area. There are two major differences between Saving Grace and a food bank: 1) We do not warehouse food. We deliver food the same day it is collected to diverse local agencies that feed the hungry. 2) We recover perishable food, such as dairy, produce, meats, prepared food that is still good but not sellable – from restaurants, caterers cafeterias  grocers, delis, and food vendors. We then match your donated food to the recipient agency that can best utilize your donation and deliver that same day.

Is there a fee for your services?

No, we have no program fees.

Does Saving Grace pick up food from individuals?

Not as a rule. If you hold a catered event, however, we can possibly make arrangements with your caterer for recovery of surplus food.

What are my liabilities with regard to the donation of food?

None. Donors are protected by the BILL EMERSON GOOD SAMARITAN ACT (Federal Legislation) Public Law 104-210-Oct. 1, 1996. that exempts Saving Grace food donors from potential liability or damages related to the donation of perishable foods. View PDF link here.

Does Saving Grace pick up leftovers from buffet tables?

No.  Food that has been served, or placed on a buffet, is not eligible for pick-up due to health regulations. Excess food must have been properly maintained (refrigerated) and held in the kitchen without being served in order to qualify for pick up. Please ask for smaller buffet trays that can be set out as needed. This will ensure more of your excess food can be rescued and shared with those who would benefit.

Does Saving Grace pick up at night?

No. Our trucks begin running as early as 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday; we may offer Saturday pick up on special request. As we do not warehouse food, it is impossible for us to pick up and deliver to our agencies during evening hours.

Can I drop food off at your location?

No. We do not warehouse food. Our trucks pick up food and drop it off to our recipient agencies the same day. We have no storage facilities.

If I have a small amount of food, less than will feed 20-25 people, can you refer me to someone who can use it?

Yes. Please call us and we will refer you to a recipient agency in your area that would use and appreciate your donation.

Do you deliver food to individuals?

No. We deliver only to 501 (c) (3) agencies that are serving our neighbors in need.

How can our agency become a food recipient? What are your criteria?

Please refer to the Who We Serve page for full details or Contact Us.

What areas of the Greater Omaha do you serve?

Our service area primarily targets Omaha’s eastern corridor. We will enlarge this service area as food donations grow and we are able to secure an additional truck and driver. For pick-ups outside our service area, we will make every effort to coordinate a pick up for you, or we will direct you to a facility near you that would welcome and appreciate the donation of your excess food.

As our or direct food donations grow, we will add additional trucks to expand our free food rescue and delivery service to more organizations throughout the Greater Omaha area.

Legal Information

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act

(Federal Legislation) Public Law 104-210-Oct. 1, 1996

An act of Congress that encourages the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to needy individuals, backed by the full force and effect of law.

What sort of food is protected?

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (the “Emerson Act”) provides protection for food and grocery products that meet all quality and labelling standards imposed by Federal, State and local laws and regulations even though the food or product may not be “readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions.”

Food may include any “raw, cooked processed or prepared edible substance, ice, beverage or ingredient” used or intended for use by humans. Grocery products can include non-food products, including “disposable paper or plastic products, household cleaning products, laundry detergent, cleaning products or miscellaneous household items.” There are also provisions to deal with food and products that do not meet quality and labelling requirements of Federal, State and Local laws. The National law has received widespread bi-partisan in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both legislative bodies passed the bill by unanimous consent. Furthermore, the Emerson Act moves the Good Samaritan Law from the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to the Childhood Nutrition Act of 1996.

Who is protected?

The national legislation protects food donors, including individuals, and non-profit feeding programs who act in good faith. While exceptions are noted for gross negligence, the law states that these groups will not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the “nature, age, packaging or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product…”

How does the law improve on the state laws already in place?

The national legislation replaces all state laws, including those in the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and all U.S. territories and possessions. Under the National law, food donors need only seek protection under one law. This should save significant time and resources on the donor’s behalf and simplify the entire donation process.

How does the national law compare to state laws?

The Emerson Act has actually existed as a model for state laws since 1990 when it was placed in the National and Community Service Act of 1990, although it did not carry Bill Emerson’s name until 1996. While state laws have never been tested in courts, and food-rescue programs have worked hard to prevent even a single case of food-borne illness, the national law is broader and simpler to apply.

View the full PDF here.

Learn More about Saving Grace

Types of Food Rescued