End hunger by tackling food waste

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End hunger by tackling food waste

One of the recent victories of the 117th Congress in US history is the passage of the Food Donation Improvement Act, a little-known bill that could spur a major effort to solve the crises of hunger and food waste. in the USA. But the landmark legislation will only work if private sector leaders make sure it delivers. Consider the following paradox: Americans waste more per capita than any country on Earth. An incredible 40 percent of our food ends up rotting in fields and landfills, and at the same time the number of hungry people in our country is growing.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, 35 million Americans are food insecure, or about 10% of Americans. The combined pressures of inflation, geopolitical conflict and climate change will only exacerbate pressure on global food production.

For years, bills awaited congressional approval that would redirect surplus food to a population in need, and they were ignored for years. And it’s time to act. The Food Donation Enhancement Act, which President Joe Biden recently signed into law, is the first of many important measures that could resolve America’s glaring contradiction between food surplus and shortage. Since President Bill Clinton signed the Bill Emerson Food Donation Act in 1996, the United States has not passed major food donation legislation. The new legislation advances Emerson’s Law with obvious, long-awaited reforms that will allow schools, farmers, restaurants, businesses, manufacturers and retailers to donate surplus food directly to their communities.

The new rules ease the liability burden so that private donors who are already subject to safety checks are exempt from any legal liability for food quality or spoilage. The Food Donation Enhancement Act removes a provision requiring private sector donations to be channeled through food aid organizations. Under Emerson’s Law, a school or restaurant, for example, could not legally donate excess food directly to families in need of food in their neighborhood. Instead, the donation must be sent through a food bank which may be a long drive away, and then the food will be redistributed to the recipients. The same goes for local farms, retail stores and corporate cafeterias, food factories and other high-volume food facilities that often choose to dispose of their surplus rather than take care of the process. legally complex and logistically cumbersome donation.

These barriers resulted in enormous waste; The private sector wastes billions of pounds of nutritious food each year. While the Food Donation Enhancement Act may help stem this crisis, there is still a lot of work to be done. It is no longer enough to facilitate the donation of food to the population in need. There must be incentives, even requirements, to do so. Entrepreneurs themselves must make it a priority in 2023 to conserve and redistribute the food wasted by their businesses. But the 118th Congress can also offer incentives, dramatically expanding the tax incentives available for food donations by passing another bill already in the works known as the Nutrient Donations Supplemental Stimulus Act. The Additional Stimulus Act deserves the same extraordinary bipartisan and NGO support that enabled the passage of the Food Donation Act.

State governors nationwide can also help by following the lead of New York and California, which already have laws in place that require donations from certain businesses with large amounts of food and safety checks. in place. Passage of the Food Donation Enhancement Act is expected to catalyze support for complementary bills that have already been introduced, particularly the Food History Labeling Act that was introduced and passed in all three previous configurations. of Congress. Food Rescue promotes the standardization of best before dates for perishable foods such as meat and dairy products. Currently, expiration date standards vary widely from state to state, resulting in a waste of healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Lawmakers are also expected to support an ambitious Zero Food Waste bill introduced in 2021 that would encourage the development of local policies that keep food out of landfills, while helping to fund critical infrastructure for large-scale food donations. such as utility networks. distribution fleets.

“Hunger is not inevitable. We are not short of food; We have a disconnect between abundance and need – a disconnect that we can circumvent. And the solution will not be easy. It’s difficult to pass food-related legislation because it goes through so many agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency. environment and many congressional committees, that it is difficult to introduce large pieces of legislation with all the necessary components.

But critical momentum is building, thanks to a coalition of NGOs and foundations, including the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Whitwatcher International, Food Tank, GroupHub and the Natural Resources Defense Council. These and other food justice-focused groups helped garner the bipartisan support necessary for the bill’s last-minute passage. We cling to the hope that this support will continue. The twin goals of solving hunger and reducing food waste are more important and urgent than ever. After a brutal war in Ukraine, increasingly unstable weather, fragile supply chains and widespread famines around the world, there is simply no room for waste to grow.

Published by special arrangement with the Washington Post Writing and Syndication Service.


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