The context for this text is the fast worldwide progress of (surplus) meals redistribution initiatives. These are steadily reliant on networks of volunteer labour, typically coordinated by digital means. Actions with these traits are more and more considered by researchers, policymakers and practitioners as instances of self-organisation. The article explores the character and extent of self-organisation in meals redistribution initiatives. Two contrasting UK initiatives had been studied utilizing ethnographic strategies throughout a interval of fast enlargement. The idea of self-organisation was operationalised utilizing three dimensions—autonomy, enlargement and governance. One initiative established meals banks in shut cooperation with company meals actors. Its franchise charity mannequin concerned standardised security protocols and important centralised management. The opposite initiative intentionally pursued autonomy, fast recruitment and de-centralised governance; nonetheless, collaboration with trade actors and a level of centralised management turned a (contested) a part of the strategy. We spotlight the interaction of organisational company and institutional constructions affecting the self-organisation of surplus meals redistribution, together with methods by which motion dynamism can contain seize by dominant pursuits but in addition the seeds of transformative practices that problem root causes of meals waste, significantly meals’s commodification. Our evaluation gives a option to evaluate the potentials of meals charity vs mutual assist in effecting systemic change.