Last week, we talked about steps that can help your kitchen achieve zero food waste through planning and optimization. But what about the 96 billion pounds of food waste that we create but do not serve? Today, we will look at what your kitchen can do with that prepared food waste that remains at the end of your day.
Roadblocks to Donation
You may have already thought about donating your surplus or unused prepared food to a local food bank or other charity – but thought it was too difficult, risky or cost effective. With the help of some non-profit organizations, whose intent is to simplify the process, and a law specifically written to protect your good intentions, there are now fewer reasons not to turn your excess waste into a positive for your community.
Creating a program is not as difficult and time-consuming as one would think. There are organizations that exist to help. One is the Food Donation Connection based out of Knoxville, TN. Through their website, foodtodonate.com, potential donors can find local organizations in need and helps facilitate the ongoing communication to ensure all benefit from the exchange. They can also help coordinate the tracking and transportation through pick-up agencies. The FDC receives no federal money, but funds itself through the food donors who pay a small percentage of the tax benefits received through the donation process.
According to 2013 numbers, the FDC helped 14,592 foodservice locations donate 36 million pounds of food to 7908 hunger relief organizations. Many large chains are involved in the program, including Yum! Brands and Darden Restaurants. Some recipients of this donated food include Feeding America, City Harvest (NYC), The Salvation Army and Boy & Girls Clubs
Another common roadblock is the potential liability of donating food. Where does the food safety liability lie once it leaves a restaurant’s care? In 1996, the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to clear this legal point and encourage more donations. The bill protects the donor and the recipient agencies in most cases outside of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. With the national law enacted, all donors in the U.S. have the same language that protects them from civil or criminal liability.
Covered food includes products that “meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions.”
Benefits to Donation
Aside from the pride a business can take in helping the nearly 30 million Americans at risk of hunger, and the goodwill created by letting your customers know you support your community, there are fiscal benefits as well.
Many businesses can benefit from tax breaks linked to their charitable food donations. The FDC explains several laws that may be used come tax time. Most are based on the fair market value of the donated food. You should always talk with your Attorney or Tax consultant, but the largest benefit of food donation is helping to divert your portion of the 96 billion pounds of food waste currently being sent to our local landfills. By overcoming some of these large roadblocks, there is little reason not to do your part.
Helpful tools from Central
Whether you decide to donate through a facilitation organization like the FDC, or work personally with a local organization, you’ll probably need to invest some additional food pans, and storage or transportation containers. The FDC uses Cambro Camwear and Camcarrier products that Central carries everyday at competitive prices.