An article by Nancy Zavada about the common misconception that donating leftover event food is illegal garnered lots of comments at MeetingsNet. Many planners said they’ve gotten pushback from hotels when asking if they could donate their leftover food. A little digging into the issue reveals that, although there is a law that protects people who donate food, it’s still easier for companies to have a blanket policy against food donation rather than risk something happening to a recipient. As a 2016 report and action plan created by ReFED, a collaboration of more than 30 business, nonprofit, foundation, and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the U.S., put it: “The federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects donors and recipients from civil or criminal liability short of gross negligence and misconduct. However, this legislation remains unproven and untested in court leaving corporate legal departments without a precedent to follow that would allow them to fully support food donation.” There also are state and local regulations that can come into play.
ReFED and others are taking steps to improve the process by asking the government for more specific guidance on food donation. Our gallery includes more information about ReFED’s action plan, plus other resources that can help you succeed in donating food from events.