The Food Donation Improvement Act was passed in the House and Senate thanks to broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Biden on January 5, 2023. The bill will help provide immediate relief to the more than 42 million Americans facing food security, while also reducing billions of pounds of food waste.
Despite the 42 million people that were expected to experience food insecurity last year alone, 35% of all food in the U.S. is thrown out and goes to waste. To make matters worse, food waste that ends up in landfills is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions from the methane it produces. The Food Donation Improvement Act is a critical solution to address these pressing problems.
The effort to push this bill forward was largely driven by a coalition of 70+ nonprofit and corporate leaders, including WeightWatchers, Harvard Food law and Policy Clinic, NRDS, Grubhub, Food Tank, and Share My Meals, a Princeton, NJ-based nonprofit dedicated to recovering healthy prepared meals and delivering them to families in need.
This act amends existing legislation to clarify and broaden protections for food donors who might be hesitant about liability for food once it leaves their facility, explained Isabelle Lambotte, founder of Share My Meals. “Now we can make a more reassuring case to food service providers that donating through Share My Meals is a safe alternative to throwing out perfectly good meals that can help feed families with food insecurity – a win-win for everyone and the environment!”
Share My Meals delivered 63,000 meals in 2022, serving 1,000 people per week with more than 40 volunteers, 15 community partners and 30 food donors. This represents 23 tons and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of food saved – as well as 100 tons of CO2 diverted from the atmosphere.
“Fresh prepared food is probably the trickiest to donate,” said Lambotte. “But thanks to advanced technology, we were able to develop the real-time tracking and delivery system to make it happen without compromising safety.”
Share My Meals currently serves Princeton and surrounding areas and continues to expand into Trenton and New Brunswick where the need is high. “The Food Donation Improvement Act is going to be a big help in educating the community about the intertwined problems of food waste and food insecurity,” said Lambotte, ”and will smooth the way to solving them by encouraging the kinds of creative partnerships that Share My Meals has with global businesses and local nonprofits.
In the House, the bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Newhouse, Rep. Pingree, the late Rep. Walorski, and 40 more. In the Senate, the bill was co-sponsored by Senators Toomey, Braun, Booker, Casey, Gillibrand, and Brown.
“We don’t have a shortage of food. We have a mismatch between abundance and need. A mismatch we can solve by passing this bill,” said Rep. Jim McGovern on the House Floor.
“Across our nation, millions of Americans struggle with food and nutrition insecurity, dual crises that have been further heightened by the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Booker. “I’m encouraged to see advocates sound the alarm on these pressing issues and address them. We must continue our work to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food, and we can start by making sure the food we grow does not go to waste.”
Go to www.sharemymeals.org to learn more about volunteering or donating to Share My Meals.