Why are we still trashing so much perfectly good food?


Centre Hall

Recently on the bus, our work crew engaged in an interesting discussion about food donations. A man who is employed with a local school said “It’s such a shame about the multitude of good food we just toss away into school dumpsters each day.” He added that “Between our school district cafeterias and supply centers we probably throw away tons of good food every week.” Moreover, his school administrators enforce a strict rule, where if he ate or tried to salvage any small food portion marked for trash, he could get fired.

Our bus driver chimed in, saying that restaurants and food stores don’t donate surplus food nearing expiration dates, because they’re fearful of being sued. Our bus riders seemed unaware of The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, even though in 1996 Bill Clinton signed this act to encourage companies and organizations to donate healthy food that would otherwise go to waste. The law protects you from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient.

As for myself, I only remember reading about this act recently, which made me wonder if other people, especially food store managers and such had forgotten this 23 year old law. Perhaps reminding food administrators of this protection now and again will help them see that they have no good excuses for tossing away perfectly good edibles and may consider reassessing their waste policies to help our poor and hungry destitute neighbors.