From Restaurants to Food Banks

By Ratha Tep Posted January 14, 2008

Last Wednesday, 11-year-old Jack Davis made the cover of the Miami Herald for helping propose a bill that would allow restaurants to donate leftover food without facing potential legal liabilities. Known as the Florida Restaurant Lending a Helping Hand Act, it was approved unanimously by the state legislature but must still face a senate vote. On Friday, Davis was named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson.

While I wholeheartedly applaud Davis, I think his media attention might be giving out a confused message—namely that restaurants currently face liability for donating excess food. According to a spokesperson at America’s Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable hunger-relief organization, that’s actually not the case since the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed in 1996 by former President Clinton, already offers liability protection on a national level with the goal of encouraging more food donors—from restaurants to individuals—and takes precedence over state laws.

The following is a list of local food-rescue organizations that pick up excess food from restaurants—and that could use your help:

City Harvest, New York City—The world’s first food-rescue program.
Food Runners, San Francisco—Created by Tante Marie’s Cooking School founder Mary Risley.
Seattle’s Table, Seattle—Distributes more than 1.6 million pounds of food yearly.
Fork it Over!, Portland, Oregon—F&W favorites Andina Restaurant and Hot Lips Pizza are donors.

To find a food bank near you, please visit Second Harvest.

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