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Liability Law Loosened for Surplus-Food Distribution

The Food Donation Improvement Act passed by Congress in January makes it easier for planners and venues to disseminate packaged and prepared food items from events, including the Super Bowl.

For Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz., the many organizations that distribute food to the needy throughout the greater Phoenix/Scottsdale metro area truly had their hands full. After all, roughly 140,000 pounds of donatable food and beverage came from the Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium as well as the many official Super Bowl social events, with still more surplus food coming from various unofficial gatherings across the region.

What’s more, the Waste Management Phoenix Open professional golf tournament was in town the same weekend, drawing as many as 500,000 fans who required food and beverage. With so much going on, the city’s food-rescue organizations needed to be well organized to make the most of the bounty.

This article from details how those organizations did it. In conjunction with dozens of event coordinators for Super Bowl and golf-tournament parties and receptions, groups such as the Food Recovery Network enlisted an army of volunteers to properly collect, store, and deliver leftover food and beverage to Phoenix Rescue Mission and other distribution centers in poor neighborhoods.

A New Law Makes Donations Easier for Groups
Just a few weeks before the Super Bowl, President Joe Biden signed into law the Food Donation Improvement Act, an enhancement of the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act that makes it easier for people and companies to donate leftover food without fear of legal liability in case of spoilage.

The FDIA of 2023 makes it legal for event organizers, their caterers, or their host venues to send leftover food and beverage to entities that resell the food at low cost, such as nonprofit “social supermarkets,” in addition to soup kitchens and food pantries that distribute food for free. This change allows for leftovers to get to more outlets quickly.

Secondly, the FDIA extends protection to food donations given directly to the needy by food businesses, including catering companies, which already comply with food-safety requirements. Before, the law only protected food-business donors who sent their surplus to a nonprofit organization that would distribute the food.

Now, caterers and hotel kitchens can work with event organizers to set up direct distribution of leftover food whenever feasible, such as when a business group wants to host a social-responsibility activity that brings together attendees and local residents.

More detail about the new law can be found here.

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