The USDA states that up to 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten, while CalRecycle reports that food accounts for 18% of waste in California’s landfills. Through anaerobic decomposition, this waste produces the second largest source of human-related methane in California. In Los Angeles County, 1.68 million people have limited access to food, making the County the largest food-insecure population in the United States.
Feed People, Not Landfills! The World Food Summit defines food security as existing “when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” One in eight Americans struggle with food insecurity, not knowing from where their next mean will come (Feeding America). In California, 4.8 million people are food insecure (L.A. County Department of Public Health). Meanwhile, many businesses are unaware that donations of surplus or expired prepackaged food are protected by the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
According to an analysis by the Green Restaurant Association, a single restaurant can produce approximately 25,000 to 75,000 pounds of food waste in one year.
By donating edible food, businesses may:
Food donations are legally protected and supported by the California Department of Public Health. The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (AB 1219) provides liability protections for entities that make good faith donations of surplus food. The federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act also protects businesses from civil and criminal liability, should donated products cause any harm to the recipient. For further information, please contact your county’s Department of Public Health.
Acceptable items may vary among food recovery organizations. Permitted food service establishments, processors, and distributors may donate* the following to nonprofits and directly to individuals:
* Food previously served to a consumer generally cannot be donated.
Contact your food recovery partner to learn what kinds of foods they collect and to coordinate a pick-up.
Confusion over date labels contributes to 20% of wasted food. Food date labels generally indicate quality, not safety. The California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act explicitly states that the donation of past-date food is subject to liability protection. There is no federal food-date labeling law. Your food recovery partner will work with you to decipher when food can and cannot be donated.
Food recovery organizations arrange the collection of donated food from your place of business and deliver to nonprofit recipients like shelters, food kitchens, pantries, and missions. Experienced food recovery organizations can assist businesses with food donation setup, needs, and concerns. Prior to donating, please be sure to arrange an initial meeting to discuss partnership logistics.
If your business is in City of Los Angeles, please click here to identify your food recovery partners.
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Los Angeles County Food Redistribution Initiative: LA County Department of Public Health site
provides resources to the public about safe methods to prevent, donate, and recycle excess food. Includes
Guidance for Food Operators brochure, share table guide for schools, and additional resources.
Los Angeles Food Policy Council: Food Waste Prevention & Rescue Working Group promotes strategies
for food waste prevention, food recovery and donation, and composting. Includes #FreetheFood Impact
Guide and Los Angeles Area Food Recovery Guide.
Save the Food: Provides planning, storage tips, and tools to reduce edible food waste. Includes
interactive storage guide, guest-imator, and tips for cooking with food scraps.
Food DROP LA: Provides business resources including Food Donation Toolkit and Food Donation
Further with Food: Users share their responses, initiatives, tools, and best practices geared to curb food
Interested in starting organics recycling at your business? Click here.