Bipartisan bill aims to cut down on food waste by spurring donations

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Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill Tuesday to remove roadblocks that discourage restaurants, farmers, schools and others from donating leftover food.

The Food Donation Improvement Act would provide liability protections to organizations that donate food directly to people in need rather than going through a nonprofit and allow them to give to groups that offer food at a substantially reduced price. It would also clarify what kind of labeling standards food products must meet to be eligible for legal protections.  

“This bill will eliminate legal roadblocks that discourage food donations by restaurants, retailers, and others,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Nearly 40 percent of our nation’s food goes to waste – creating a clear opportunity and imperative to help Americans going hungry every day.”

Several influential food and diet companies, including WW International, Grubhub, Hellmann’s and Impossible Foods, support the effort to overhaul rules surrounding food donations. 

Those companies co-authored a letter to Congress this week calling on lawmakers to revamp food donation rules to encourage more organizations to donate food rather than throw it away. They’re hoping that the bipartisan bill can pass Congress without much trouble. 

“To me, it doesn’t feel like something that should be so polarizing,” WW President and CEO Mindy Grossman told The Hill. “I think the impact of this will be very clear, and that’s what I’m hoping gets across.”

Roughly 42 million people were expected to experience food insecurity this year, according to Feeding America. But at the same time, millions of pounds of fresh food goes to waste every year, according to an analysis from ReFED. The Environmental Protection Agency aims to cut food loss in half by 2030 in an effort to fight climate change.

The companies are also pushing lawmakers to expand tax credits to cover the costs associated with transporting food and create a stand-alone tax credit for farmers that makes donating food a viable option. 

“From a business perspective, re-looking at tax deductions and other formalities around actual distribution of food can make it easier and more cost effective to get more food to more people,” Grossman said.

Tags Charity food donations Food waste Grubhub Hellmann's Impossible Foods Pat Toomey Richard Blumenthal WW International

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