For many years planners and caterers have wanted to donate food from events to local, nonprofit organizations. What stopped us? The fear of being held responsible should one get sick from the donated food. One of the best things about an event is the delicious food, why not share with the community! To do this, we’ve worked to find the solution to keeping our clients happy and being socially/environmentally responsible at the same time. With the help of food banks and law, planners can finally keep food out of the trash and on the plates of those who need it most. Let’s talk about the ways to legally donate food from your event and improve your community footprint.  

Food Donors Now Protected By Law

Before the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, caterers and planners had a lot to worry about. How would the food stay warm on the way to the donation facility? What if someone gets sick from the food and sues? What organizations will accept the food and take the risk? There were too many issues and questions around donating to nonprofits. Thanks to the Food Donation Act, we can donate food worry free and help organizations help serve those in need. As noted by Feeding America, our nation’s network of 200 food banks, the Good Samaritan law:
  • Protects food donors from liability when donating to a non-profit organization;
  • Protects food donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;
  • Standardizes donor liability exposure. Food donors and their legal counsels do not need to investigate liability laws in 50 states; and
  • Sets a floor of “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. According to the law, gross negligence is defined as “voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”

Donate Food From Your Event in the Bay Area

If you are hosting in the Bay Area, you can use these local organizations to donate food from your event.
  1. Food Runners in San Francisco. This organization has over 250 active volunteers. More than 450 restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other businesses regularly donate perishable and prepared foods.
  2. Peninsula Food provides a free service to pick up excess perishable and prepared food from restaurants, caterers, bakeries, wholesalers, event planners, corporate cafeterias, farmer market vendors, and hotels. They deliver directly to shelters, neighborhood feeding programs and 100% affordable housing. Presently Peninsula Food Runners is delivering 30,000 meals a week to families and individuals in need.
  3. Sonoma Food Runners-A volunteer from SONOMA Food Runners will pick up your donation and deliver it to a location in Sonoma County where it will be used to feed those in need.
  4. Extra in Marin County- Food Recovery in Marin County: We pick up excess fresh food from businesses and immediately deliver it to nonprofits serving Marin’s most vulnerable children, adults, and families.We’ve delivered over 407,606 pounds of food to 64 sites serving thousands and prevented over 33,248 pounds of methane from entering the atmosphere.

How Donating Food Works

The process of legally donating food from an event is easy. Start by contacting one of the organizations above to discuss the day and time range for pick-up. You will need to have a minimum of 10 servings of food in safe, disposable containers to donate. The organizations accept prepared food, fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat, shelf-stable packaged goods and baked goods. It’s ALL good! On the day of the event, the organization will send a volunteer to pick up your donation. If necessary, they will load the donated food into a sealed, industrial-grade food delivery bag with ice packs. After loading the truck, they drive away and that’s it! You’ve successfully donated leftover food from your event. Being able to legally donate from from your event is important. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance estimates that as much as 40 percent of the food that is grown, processed, and transported in the United States will never be consumed. Uneaten food in this country uses 26 percent of our freshwater resources and accounts for 4 percent of total oil consumption. Before you book your caterer find out if they donate food to organizations or throw it in the trash. If you have other organizations that you use to donate food from your events, leave a comment and let us know!  
Aurice Guyton

Author Aurice Guyton

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