The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) is backing a bipartisan federal measure that addresses the problem of food insecurity by making it easier for food banks to collect and distribute food to families in need.
The Food Donation Improvement Act of 2019, introduced by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would adjust federal law to extend liability protections for qualifying direct food donations and food sold at deeply reduced prices.
“This is an important bill that helps address the growing problem of food insecurity in Pennsylvania and across the United States,” PFMA President and CEO Alex Baloga said. “By extending liability protection, we are making it easier for those who wish to donate and sell food at reduced prices, which benefits the community as a whole.”
Currently, donors are only afforded protections if the ultimate recipient gets the food free-of-charge. However, new and innovative models are designed to repurpose food and market it in a nonprofit grocery store at deeply reduced prices.
“Donating food to the less fortunate should be as easy as possible,” Toomey said. “But liability concerns limit the number of people who can be served by food banks. This new legislation will help get more food to those who need it most by extending liability protections for direct donations and reduced-price food.”
Specifically, the Food Donation Improvement Act would:
- Extend liability protections to food-donating entities (grocers, caterers, schools, etc.) and food banks for food sold at a reduced price.
- Extend liability protections to qualified donors who give food directly to needy individuals and families without going through a nonprofit intermediary.
- Require USDA to issue regulations clarifying the quality and labeling standards donated food must meet.
In addition to PFMA, the legislation is endorsed by 412 Food Rescue, Feeding Pennsylvania, and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.