There's a children's song called, "The Song that Never Ends" and thanks to Lamb Chop & friends, the music still plays in my head.
Likewise, in sustainable meetings, there is a "Question that Never Ends" and, by golly, it hasn't. The question is..."Is it illegal to donate food after an event?"
Rarely does a week go by, when someone doesn't ask me this question. Then it hit closer to home yesterday when my daughter asked the same question. Working for a hotel, she had volunteered for the property's Green Team thinking it was going to be an easy project given all of the "green stuff" she has been inundated with over the years. When she raised her hand at the first meeting and asked why they didn't donate food, she was told for "liability reasons." She argued her point for a while and then came looking for back up.
Here are a few links I passed along:
and there's an app for that http://www.pcma.org/convene-content/convene-article/2014/04/03/an-app-for-leftovers#.U6C2lrGEeVp
Long story, short, The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act allows you help the hungry.
What does the law do? The law protects good-faith donors from civil and criminal liability in the event that the product later causes harm to its recipient. The Emerson Act gives uniform protection to food donors who may cross state lines.
Who is protected? The law protects food donors, including individuals and nonprofit feeding programs that act in good faith. More specifically, the law protects individuals, corporations, partnerships, organizations, associations, governmental entities, wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers, farmers, gleaners, nonprofit agencies, and others.
What sort of food is protected? The Emerson Act provides protection for food and grocery products that meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state, and local laws and regulations - even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.
Where can I find a place to donate? Find a local food bank using the Food Bank Locator on Feeding America's website. Your role is to connect the local food bank and the catering firm. They will take care of the details.
In the current economy, food banks are struggling to fill their shelves to help the hungry and planners want to know how to help. I am glad this question keeps coming up because at least people are still asking about food donation. Now I just need a few lyrics and a memorable melody!