Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
HB 186: “An Act relating to the donation of food; and relating to food banks.”
738,068 (World Population Review, 2018)
Well-meaning people and organizations are often inhibited from donating food due to liability concerns. HB 186 extends the protections established by the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and further reduces liability for those making food donations. Significantly, the bill includes unsold hot food, making it easier for restaurants to donate leftover food that is still fit for consumption at the end of the day.
Progress to date:
January 24, 2018
Food policy category:
The program seeks to increase the quantity of donations made to food banks and other charitable organizations, thereby improving food security for the state’s underserved population.
How it works:
The bill outlines several scenarios in which it is permissible to donate food without fear of liability. Under the following circumstances, if a recipient of the donated food items suffers from injury or death, the person or organization who donated the food is not subject to civil or criminal liability:
Donors of hot food, such as restaurants, are immune from liability as long as the following criteria are met:
Food banks and other charitable organizations are also immune from liability as long as they meet the following requirements:
Why it is important:
The bill has the potential to improve food security for underprivileged Alaskans while also reducing food waste. According to the Food Bank of Alaska, around 1 in 7 Alaskans struggles with hunger, and 1 in 9 participates in SNAP annually.
The USDA reports that about one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted in the United States. That equals 133 billion pounds and amounts to almost $162 billion each year. According to the EPA, 10% of food waste comes from unsold food at grocery stores, and 26% of waste is created in restaurants. Much of that food is safe to eat, but people and businesses often throw it out instead of donating it for fear of liability. If even a small percentage of that food were donated instead of dumped into a landfill, it could alleviate hunger for those who need it most.
Point of Contact:
Dave Talerico (Representative who introduced the bill)
The 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was the first step in reducing liability for those making food donations. In October 2017, California clarified and extended those protections in the California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Internationally, states such as New South Wales, Australia and Ontario, Canada have passed similar “Good Samaritan” laws.