McGovern, Newhouse, Pingree, Walorski Introduce New Bipartisan Bill to Increase Food Donations and Prevent Hunger

Bipartisan Legislation Eliminates Legal Roadblocks That Discourage Restaurants, Retailers and Others from Donating Food

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman of the House Rules Committee James P. McGovern (D-MA), alongside Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), introduced the bipartisan Food Donation Improvement Act to encourage food donation efforts across the country. Tens of millions of American families face food insecurity every year, but ambiguous, outdated, and limited liability protections often prevent businesses and organizations from donating food.

The Food Donation Improvement Act would encourage food donation efforts by extending liability protections to food donors when food is either given directly to a person in need or when a recipient pays a deeply reduced cost.

“Despite thousands of people being hungry in this country every day, billions and billions of pounds of food go to waste every single year,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, Chair of the Congressional Hunger Center. “This piece of legislation helps make simple fixes to help make sure perfectly good food is put to good use by helping to feed the millions of American families who struggle with hunger every year.

“The law should never discourage people from helping their neighbors or encourage them to throw away perfectly good food,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse. “The Food Donation Improvement Act will enact logical reforms that will provide clarity and protections to farmers, retailers, and non-profits seeking in good faith to assist the hungry, helping those in need have access to food that would otherwise go to waste.”

“In 2021, it’s estimated that approximately 85,000 Mainers experience very low food security, representing a 10-percent increase from before the pandemic. Meanwhile, $161 billion worth of food is wasted each year. Confusing and limited liability protections discourage food donations and add to our nation’s unacceptable and staggering waste. Rather than hindering donation efforts, this bill will encourage food donations to help fill the plates of those who need it most,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Co-Chair of the Food Recovery Caucus.

“Making it easier for restaurants, grocery stores, farms, and other businesses to donate food to their neighbors is a commonsense tool to help communities fight hunger,” said Congresswoman Walorski. “Americans have long been characterized by a spirit of generosity, and Congress stands ready to eliminate burdensome barriers to this charitable giving. Tackling hunger is a bipartisan priority, and the Food Donation Improvement Act has the potential to make a huge difference for Americans facing food insecurity.”

The Food Donation Improvement Act would extend liability protections to food donors when food is given directly to a person in need rather than a nonprofit intermediary, or when food is given at a deeply reduced cost. Expanding these protections would allow retail grocers, wholesalers, agricultural producers, restaurants, caterers, school food authorities, and higher education institutions to increase the quantity and efficiency of their food donation efforts. The bill would also clarify labeling standards that food products must meet to be eligible for liability protections. 

The text of the legislation is available here.