In 1996, The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law.
Why is the Good Samaritan Act important to us? According to the EPA, approximately 38 million tons – or $218 billion worth of food – is wasted each year. That’s up to 40% of produced food in the United States that goes to waste. All of that waste and still over 41 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. And of that 41 million, one million of our own New Jersey residents are hungry. There is not one county in New Jersey where someone does not struggle with hunger.
The Good Samaritan Act encourages food donations that would otherwise be wasted by protecting all good faith donors from civil and criminal liability should the donation later cause unintentional harm to its recipient. The law also gives uniform federal protection to donors who may cross state lines. The law protects individuals, corporations, organizations, associations, wholesalers, retailers, restauranteurs, caterers, farmers, gleaners, nonprofit feed programs and more who act in good faith. Basically, the law protects all our donors and it protects us. That’s pretty important.
We take food safety very seriously. It’s our job to take it seriously. We only use refrigerated trucks to pick up donations. Our drivers are ServSafe trained and they carry laser thermometers, testing random donations with the pull of a trigger. The recipient agencies that we deliver to are inspected by their local Health Departments and have valid certificates. We ask that either a volunteer or a staff member at each agency complete and pass a food safety course. Our donors receive a list of criteria to properly prepare food-safe donations, such as freezing meat before or on the expiration date and only donating packaged items in their original packaging. Lastly, our donors are told that discarding food that does not meet our criteria is not a waste; they are actually protecting the at-risk hunger community that we help feed.
Table to Table delivered enough food for 19 million meals in 2017. An astonishing number. Numerous donors opened their refrigerators to us, knowing that we would deliver their excess food safely to soup kitchens, after school programs, senior centers, homeless shelters for men, women and families, veterans programs, food pantries, churches, HIV programs, group homes, rehabilitation programs, summer camps, re-entry services, housing groups and neighborhood resource centers. With our safety measures and the Good Samaritan Act, donors will help us deliver 20 million meals this year. Now that’s incredibly important!