May 03, 2024
Breaking Down The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act

One of the most common deterrents we hear regarding food donation is concerns around liability. Businesses that could make a world of difference often express a fear of accidentally donating expired food, resulting in illness or worse. This is a valid concern - but what many organizations don’t know is that protective legislation has been put in place, protecting donors from liability. 


Good deeds should, and can, go unpunished - thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. Here’s what you need to know. 


The act covers both prepared food and grocery products. It specifies a “person or gleaner” but a broad definition of “person” applies, which includes corporations, partnerships, organizations, and associations. Food trucks can donate. So can caterers. All these are considered a “person” under the act. 


The key to the act’s protection is the phrase “in good faith.” The products donated must be believed fit for consumption. As long as the food was not knowingly donated in a state that was inedible, any accident or misconception is protected. Negligence or intentional donation of unfit food is not protected. 


“Apparently fit grocery items” and “apparently wholesome food” may seem like broad criteria. To break down those terms, it essentially means that the donated items meet state or local health regulations. The food may not be marketable in appearance, size, or other aesthetic standards, and may not be quite as fresh as what is sold in store - all that is fine. But it absolutely must meet all quality and labeling standards, laws, and regulations, on all levels of government. 


The final key point of the act is that food must be donated specifically to people who need it. As long as it is reaching an organization that distributes it to people experiencing food insecurity, the act applies to the donation. 


So what are you waiting for? Check out our donate food page, and rest easy knowing that your donation is protected.