The United Nations’ International Day of Food Waste and Loss Awareness on September 29 calls attention to the harsh reality of food waste: 13% of food purchased goes to waste between harvesting and making its way to markets and retailers. Another 17% ends up in the landfill after reaching homes, the food service industry, and retail—staggering figures for an increasingly hungry world.
Despite these urgent challenges, the UN’s 2023 theme, “Reducing food loss and waste: Taking Action to Transform Food Systems,” is an opportunity to urge governments, businesses, and individuals to come together for innovative solutions to reduce food waste and loss. Doing so strengthens communities and creates resilient-ready food systems—and many nonprofits are leading the way in feeding communities.
Supporting Food-Focused Nonprofits
LiquiDonate is proud to partner with and support many food-focused nonprofits across our nationwide nonprofit network—and it takes a multi-pronged approach to combat food insecurity in the United States and abroad. These nonprofits address many food insecurity issues, including gleaning, rescue, and composting.
Gleaning—which is collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurants, fairs, and other sources—ensures food finds its way to those in need. And the Society of Saint Andrew’s Tennessee Gleaning Network is a key actor in the South. The Network “coordinates volunteers across the state who rescue food at farms, farmers markets, and even processing facilities. Volunteers harvest food straight from farm fields when growers are done for the season, collect food that hasn’t sold, or package and distribute unmarketable but good produce (“ugly” food).” In August of 2023 alone, the Network shared nearly 2.8 million servings of fresh food to those in need—over 693,000 pounds of gleaned and distributed food.
In the Northeast, Philly Food Rescue, which is part of the Share Food Network, is on a mission to “lead the fight against food insecurity by serving an expansive, quality partner network of community-based organizations and school districts engaged in food distribution, education, and advocacy.” The food the organization distributes comes from a variety of sources, including:
- Government partners
- Food drives
On the other side of the complex food distribution network is Let’s Go Compost, a nonprofit on a mission to make composting free and accessible across the U.S. The nonprofit recognizes that “climate change is an urgent global challenge that necessitates immediate action from everyone.” By making compost more easily accessible through education and providing financial and infrastructural support, Let’s Go Compost helps to:
- Reduce methane emissions
- Sequester carbon in the soil
- Replace synthetic fertilizers in agriculture
- Reduce the need for energy-intensive nitrogen-based fertilizer
- Improve soil structure, water retention, and nutrient content
- Reduce water runoff and evaporation
Organizations Should Feel Safe to Donate Food. This Act Provides Protection.
While there are thousands of restaurants, grocers, and other food service industry organizations that donate food, many are unfortunately fearful of being sued for distribution or other reasons. Thankfully, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 (42 U.S. Code § 1791) provides some protections.
The Act provides limited liability protection for people who make good-faith donations of food and grocery products to nonprofits that feed the hungry. The act also provides limited liability protection, both civil and criminal, for those who distribute food and groceries, such as food banks.
So, who does the Act protect?
- Backyard gardeners
- Restaurants, retail grocers and manufacturers
- Food trucks
- School food authorities and higher education institutions
- Food banks
- Kitchens that prepare meals from donated food and sell those meals at very low prices in underserved communities
Strengthening Communities One Donation and Food Rescue at a Time
It’s going to take individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and governments to strengthen and create resilient food systems to feed our growing global population. Thankfully, countless organizations are already taking the lead and serving their communities from every point of the food distribution chain. LiquiDonate is proud to partner with these and other organizations making a difference in communities from coast to coast.
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