(Last Updated 11/19/2019)
Food Recovery Act
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced HR484, the Food Recovery Act, which is a comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at reducing food waste and promoting food recovery, in 2015. The Food Recovery Act includes various provisions to encourage farms, groceries, restaurants, and institutions to donate excess food to food recovery nonprofits, along with regulations and funding measures that will raise awareness, encourage composting and anaerobic digestion programs, and reduce wasted food in schools and the federal government. The Food Recovery Act has also been introduced in the Senate and is sponsored by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Below is a summary of bill’s goals and provisions:
Reduce wasted food at the consumer level
- Combat consumer confusion by clarifying that “sell-by” dates are manufacturers’ quality suggestions only, and require uniform date labeling language.
- Sponsor a national campaign raising awareness on the impact of food waste and strategies to decrease wasted food at the household level.
Reduce wasted food on the farm, in grocery stores and restaurants
- Extend and expand tax deductions for farmers, retailers, and restaurants that donate high-quality food to organizations serving people who are food insecure.
- Strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which provides liability protection to businesses that donate wholesome food.
- Invest in storage and distribution programs to help food banks maximize their resources.
- Study barriers that prevent the donation of surplus food.
Reduce wasted food in schools
- Encourage school cafeterias to purchase lower-price “ugly” fruits and vegetables.
- Expand grant programs to educate students about food waste and encourage food recovery.
- Strengthen connection between schools and farms to give both more resources to combat food waste.
Reduce wasted food throughout the federal government, including Congress and the military
- Create an Office of Food Recovery to coordinate federal activities related to measuring and reducing food waste and implementing food recovery initiatives.
- Require companies that receive food service contracts with the federal government, including Congressional cafeterias, U.S. military bases, and federal prisons, to donate surplus food to organizations like food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
Reduce wasted food going to landfills
- Encourage composting as a conservation practice eligible for support under USDA’s conservation programs.
- Support food anaerobic digestion projects at the farm, municipal, and county levels, while ensuring that edible food that could feed hungry people is not being diverted to energy production.
- Create an infrastructure fund to support construction of large-scale composting and food waste-to-energy facilities in states that restrict food waste going to landfill.
Reduce wasted food through research
- Direct USDA to develop new technologies to increase shelf life of fresh food.
- Require USDA to establish a standard for how to estimate the amount of wasted food at the farm level.