Feeding Hungry People is the second tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy. In 2015, over 39 million tons of food was generated in the United States. While Americans dispose of millions of tons of food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 11.8 percent of American households - about 15 million households - had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during 2017. In many cases, the food tossed into our nation’s landfills is wholesome, edible food.
We can be leaders in our communities by collecting unspoiled, healthy food and donating it to our neighbors in need. By donating food, we’re feeding people, not landfills, supporting local communities, and saving money.
Large manufacturers, supermarket chains, wholesalers, farmers, food brokers, and organized community food drives typically give food to food banks. Restaurants, caterers, corporate dining rooms, hotels, and other food establishments promptly distribute perishable and prepared foods to hungry people in their communities. Many local food banks will pick up food donations free of charge, saving you warehouse storage and disposal costs.
Corporate donors are protected from liability under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (PDF). Under this Act, as long as the donor has not acted with negligence or intentional misconduct, the company is not liable for damage incurred as the result of illness. Learn more from the University of Arkansas' Food Recovery – a legal guide (PDF). Many non-perishable and unspoiled perishable foods can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters if the transaction is managed properly. Check with your local food bank or food rescue operation (soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters) to find out what items they will accept. Learn more about Food Safety Basics or contact your state or local health department for more information on how to safely donate food.
There are potential tax benefits for companies that donate food. See Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s Tax Deduction for Food Donation, a Legal Guide for information on enhanced tax deductions available to businesses donating food.
The following sites contain tools that allow users to search for food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that may be interested in accepting wholesome, excess food: Feeding America’s Find Your Local Foodbank has a map of Feeding America member food banks. Some of these food banks might have a minimum donation size requirement for pick up. Credit source EPA website.
Feeding Animals is the third tier of Food Recovery Hierarchy. Farmers have been doing this for centuries. With proper and safe handling, anyone can donate food scraps to animals. Food scraps for animals can save farmers and companies money. It is often cheaper to feed animals food scraps rather than having them hauled to a landfill. Companies can also donate extra food to zoos or producers that make animal or pet food. There are many opportunities to feed animals, help the environment and reduce costs.
· Be sure you know how to handle your food scraps properly. Refer to the Swine Health Protection Act.
· Leftovers for Livestock: A Legal Guide for Using Excess Food as Animal Feed written by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas, describes different federal and state laws, regulations and requirements for feeding food scraps to animals. The guide also offers suggestions to generators of food scraps and animal feeding operations. Regulations vary in each state. Some states ban food donation for animal feed. Other states regulate what can be donated (often no meat or dairy). For example, businesses cannot donate coffee grounds and foods high in salt as they can harm animals.
· Contact your local solid waste, county agricultural extension office or public health agency for information.
· Determine what types, how often, and the amount of food scraps you can provide.