Every year, about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply goes to waste. That’s 72 billion pounds of food, worth $218 billion. Reducing food waste by 15% would feed more than 25 million Americans every year. If we break that down to individual meals, one organization was able to make more than 3 million healthy, balanced meals with 6 million pounds of food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The USDA and EPA are working to cut food waste in half by 2030. Here are three organizations doing their part, and ways your workplace can get involved.
Concerns About Donating Food
Liability concerns lead some organizations to throw food away rather than donate it. Luckily, state and federal legal protections can give you peace of mind.
The federal 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act encourages the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals. Additionally, laws in many states, such as California’s 1988 Russell Bill (sections 27900-27910 of the California Food and Agriculture code) and Texas’s 1981 Good Faith Donor Act, protect good-faith donor organizations. Check with participating organizations to learn how to comply with laws and regulations in your area.
Now, on to three food donation partners ZeroCater uses, that you can use to help your company and your community.
The food we toss isn’t always spoiled or bad; donated food is often ready to eat or cook with. Re-plate, a platform that matches food with communities in more than 300 cities nationwide, thinks of donated items as surplus food.
Since its founding in Berkeley, California, in 2016, Replate has enabled charities and hungry individuals to access food donations based on needs and location. Thanks to more than 1 million pounds of food recovered by Replate, people in need have enjoyed more than 833,000 meals. These efforts have prevented approximately 277,000 gallons of water from being wasted and 13,770,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the environment.
Businesses pay a single fee per pickup, which they can arrange via their mobile device or online at re-plate.org. Re-plate sends a driver to pick up the surplus food and then delivers it to a charity or individual.
Want to learn more?
Food Runners SF
Each week in San Francisco, volunteers at Food Runners SF rescue the equivalent of 10,000 meals from going in the trash.
Instead of throwing away perishable and prepared food, businesses use the Food Runners SF app or website to distribute surplus food to neighborhood food programs. Those programs then prepare and distribute the food to communities in need. A quick phone call or online form is all it takes to get started.
Donors include restaurants, caterers, bakeries, hospitals, special event planners, corporate cafeterias, and hotels, as well as wholesalers, retail groceries, cafes, farmers markets, takeout stores, schools, corporate cafeterias, and even food photographers. Additionally, Food Runners SF has a planned overage program for when restaurants want to prepare extra meals specifically for donation purposes.
Want to learn more?
Set up a donation by phone: (415) 929-1866
Keep Austin Fed
It all began in 2004 with a dumpster. Knowing that one in seven people rely on food banks for their next meal, Randy Rosens stepped in when catered food from an event was on its way to the trash. Instead of going to waste, the food fed hungry women and children at a shelter in South Austin, Texas.
After that, Rosens founded Keep Austin Fed, a volunteer-based non-profit that gathers nutritious, wholesome surplus food from commercial kitchens and redistributes it to Austin-area people and organizations. Since they began tracking food weights in 2014, Keep Austin Fed has rescued two million pounds of food to provide more than 1.5 million meals for hungry central Texans.
Pickups are free, but Keep Austin Fed works only with commercial kitchens (and volunteers are required to have a food handler’s permit). Most donations are prepared food, such as salads, sandwiches, and cooked meals, but frozen uncooked meat, fresh produce, and nonperishable foods are common too. Keep Austin Fed specializes in preventing even short-shelf-life foods from going to waste.
The result? Good food stays out of landfills, and fewer Austinites go hungry.
Want to learn more?
Set up a donation by phone: (512) 831-3654 ext 1
Wherever your company is based, odds are there’s a way you can donate surplus food to people and organizations in need. From nationally focused organizations such as Replate to smaller food connectors including Food Runners SF and Keep Austin Fed, there are plenty of resources to help bridge the gap between office food waste and food insecurity in local communities. Once you find the right fit for your company, make sure to document your donations: Ask the organization and your tax preparer for details on how to track your donation for tax purposes.