Policy win alert — we did it!
Since 2021, Weight Watchers has been leading a cross-sector effort to reduce food waste and tackle food insecurity by amending the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996. While this act was originally designed to encourage food donations, a lot of the language used was unclear, and businesses still feared legal repercussions of donating because they didn’t understand what was or wasn’t covered under the liability protections. As a result, many businesses deemed it safer to discard food that was still safe to eat, rather than donating it and potentially facing civil or criminal charges. This is frustrating to say the least, considering the tens of millions of people facing hunger each year in this country.
In the final days of 2022, Congress voted to pass the Food Donation Improvement Act, bringing clarity to the murky waters of donation liability. Potential donor retailers now know what foods can be safely donated and provided to hungry individuals without legal repercussions, which will encourage donations of surplus and minimize waste of perfectly good food. This bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation received over 50 cosponsors in the House and the Senate. It was also supported by a coalition of 70+ major corporations and nonprofit leaders — including Farm Fresh RI! as well as over 60,000+ petition signers! We are proud that our Hope’s Harvest program, in particular, was a key advocate of this work throughout 2022, and we hope to see positive change following the act of this bill being signed into law.
But what will this change actually look like? This is an important question, and one that Food Rescue Hero is hosting a webinar to address on Wednesday, February 8, 1-2pm. They will explain in detail the opportunity that this legislation opens up — for millions more pounds of surplus food to be donated by retailers to people dealing with food insecurity. Register for this event here!