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Pingree, McGovern, Newhouse, Walorski Introduce New Bipartisan Bill to Increase Food Donations and Prevent Hunger

Bipartisan legislation would do away with legal roadblocks that discourage restaurants, retailers, and others from donating food

  WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), alongside Representatives James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), introduced the bipartisan Food Donation Improvement Act to encourage food donation efforts across the country. Tens of millions of American families face food insecurity every year—but ambiguous, outdated, and limited liability protections often prevent or discourage businesses and organizations from donating food. 

The Food Donation Improvement Act would encourage food donation efforts by extending liability protections to food donors when food is either given directly to a person in need or when a recipient pays a deeply reduced cost. 

“In 2021, it’s estimated that approximately 85,000 Mainers experience very low food security, representing a 10-percent increase from before the pandemic. Meanwhile, $161 billion worth of food is wasted each year. Confusing and limited liability protections discourage food donations and add to our nation’s unacceptable and staggering waste. Rather than hindering donation efforts, this bill will encourage food donations to help fill the plates of those who need it most,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Co-Chair of the Food Recovery Caucus.

“Despite the crisis of hunger and food insecurity we face, billions and billions of pounds of food go to waste in this country every single year,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee. “We have plenty of food to feed everyone in America. Our legislation seeks to bridge the gap between abundance and need by removing roadblocks in the way of food donation and making it easier to prevent food waste—putting perfectly good food to use by feeding those who struggle with hunger.”

“The law should never discourage people from helping their neighbors or encourage them to throw away perfectly good food,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse. “The Food Donation Improvement Act will enact logical reforms that will provide clarity and protections to farmers, retailers, and non-profits seeking in good faith to assist the hungry, helping those in need have access to food that would otherwise go to waste.”

“Making it easier for restaurants, grocery stores, farms, and other businesses to donate food to their neighbors is a commonsense tool to help communities fight hunger,” said Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. “Americans have long been characterized by a spirit of generosity, and Congress stands ready to eliminate burdensome barriers to this charitable giving. Tackling hunger is a bipartisan priority, and the Food Donation Improvement Act has the potential to make a huge difference for Americans facing food insecurity.”

The Food Donation Improvement Act would extend liability protections to food donors when food is given directly to a person in need rather than a nonprofit intermediary, or when food is given at a deeply reduced cost. Expanding these protections would allow retail grocers, wholesalers, agricultural producers, restaurants, caterers, school food authorities, and higher education institutions to increase the quantity and efficiency of their food donation efforts. The bill would also clarify labeling standards that food products must meet to be eligible for liability protections. 

The text of the legislation is available here.


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