Donating Food After Events: Reduce Waste With These Tips

by Andrew Hoeft | May 8, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Whether it’s restaurant catering or a pre-boxed lunch from a grocery store, prepared food and the events that use prepared foods leave a lot of left-overs that are perfectly edible. Most people just throw this food away, but little do they know they are throwing money down the drain. There are many different ways, and places you can donate your leftover food to that will go to great use as well as provide you the opportunity to claim tax deductions at the beginning of the year.

The process of donating precooked food is becoming easier and easier as lawmakers add new protections to companies donating to charitable organizations each year. This food donation process is now incredibly easy and safe. Let’s take a look at four tips you can use to ensure success in your food donation efforts after an event.

Plan Ahead of Time

You don’t want to wait until after the event or the end of the day to begin trying to come up with a plan for food donation. The planning of food donation needs to be completed in the pre-planning stages of the event itself or into your daily routines if you’re a store. The longer you wait, the more likely it is you will run into a hiccup that forces you to scrap your food donation plans completely.

Understand Your Rights

A primary concern for aspiring food donors are the potential liability issues. Some people worry that if a product they donate ends up making somebody sick, they could be sued. Luckily, there are now laws in place that prevent such a thing from occurring. If the people you are working with are still possibly concerned about potential legal issues, you can have them contact a corporate lawyer to give them the scoop on all the protections and laws put in place to protect them during the process – for example, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act.

Include the Vendors

While this is mostly for restaurant and catering, grocery stores can gain some insights as they are run by teams too. Don’t leave anybody out of the food donation planning process. Making sure everybody you’re working with is included throughout the process. It is crucial for executing a successful food donation strategy. Sufficiently update the team of the correct procedures and of their legal protections to provide them complete protection in case of a situation that could potentially leave them liable.

Work with a Local Food Banks and Food Pantries

Pick a local food bank you’re going to work with and educate them on the specifics of your food donation plans. Let them know your plans and how you want to donate all of the food you have left over.

It is important to involve them in your planning process. For example, determining details such as how often pick-ups or deliveries will be done? Does your team need to deliver the food to the bank, or can they provide pick-up? What types of food storage do they prefer?

If they are already familiar with the process of donating prepared food, the entire process will likely be easy to finalize and implement. If you are donating to a smaller organization, it may require a bit more planning, but a successful program is still the likely outcome with a little extra planning.

Remember, Bill Emerson protects you from liability on these donations as long as your are not negligent. Make sure to properly store food until it is transferred to the food bank/pantry. If food cannot be picked up/delivered immediately after the event or the same night prepared foods are removed from the sales floor, they likely require storage in a cooler or freezer until transport can occur.

Other Things to Remember

Another important aspect of the food donation process to remember is that you need to track and analyze your statistics. You need to have the stats to back up the sustainability, resilience, and benefits of your food donation. When you track your statistics, make them available to the industry at large.

You might also encourage other businesses to do the same resulting in a domino effect that sees all the major event organizers choosing to donate their food due to the environmental and economic benefits and other positive effects this process can have.

Food donation is a good idea all around, even if you’re just an individual who just wants to help. If you’re a business, it helps your bottom line and is also good for the community. If you follow the tips in this article, you should be on your way to successfully and safely donating excess food—receiving all the benefits that come along with it.

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