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Options for Food Donation
Approximately 80 billion pounds of food waste is created each year in the United States and most of it is not recovered. That means each person in the United States throws away over 250 pounds of food each year. There are missed opportunities to recover this food by improving management efficiency which can in turn reduce operating costs, feed those in need, recover food as a valuable resource, reduce the amount of methane generated as a greenhouse gas in the landfills, and create jobs in the process.
In 2011, three industries joined forces with the goal of reducing the amount of food waste ending up in U.S. landfills. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (food and beverage companies), the Food Marketing Institute (representing food retailers), and the National Restaurant Association (representing the food service industry) formed together the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). The goals of the FWRA are as follows:
- Reduce the amount of food waste generated
- Increase the amount of nutritious food safely donated to the needy.
- Recycle unavoidable food waste so as to divert it from U.S. landfills.
The FWRA recently published a best practices and emerging solutions toolkit regarding the management of food waste. It covers all aspects from doing the waste audit to characterizing the food waste stream, donation and how to overcome the barriers, to composting unavoidable food waste as well as energy recovery.
The law and tax incentives
Some of the barriers to organizations interested in donating food are that they don’t know where to donate, what to donate, and are sometimes afraid of liability issues. Fortunately there are state and federal laws that protect both the donating organization and recipient organization from liability. To encourage food donation, there is a federal tax law enhancing tax donations to businesses that do so.
EPA guidelines on Sustainable Management of Food
Ohio Good Samaritan Food Law, Ohio Revised Code 2305.37
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (PDF)
The law was created to encourage donation of food and grocery products to nonprofits and provide donors liability protection. The law protects donors except in cases of negligence or intentional misconduct.
The U.S. Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 (PDF)
This document deals with procurement contract language for federal agencies and their contractors. It encourages donation of excess nutritional food to nonprofit organizations with the goal of feeding those in need.
Internal Revenue Code 170 (e)(3)
Qualifying businesses may receive deductions of half of the donated food’s appreciated value, the limit being that the total deduction cannot exceed twice the donated food’s basis cost. Please contact your accountant to review this information. Source: USDA website on Food Recovery and Donations – Office of The Chief Economist. http://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/resources/donations.htm
Local organizations that accept food donations
For a list of local organizations that accept donations of food, visit our online Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff. Choose the category of "Food."
The University of Arkansas Law School Legal Guide to Food Recovery
Guidelines for Donating Food
- National Restaurant Association Food Donation Guidelines
- Expired Food Donation Guidelines
Although this document is from Orange County, California it may serve as a general guideline for donation. Please check with your local nonprofit organizations for their individual guidelines before donating.
- Five Practices to Make Food Donations Easier