In a study conducted in 2010 by the NM Association of Food Banks entitled “Hunger in New Mexico”, it was found to be a myth that the only people seeking food assistance are without work or homeless. The study found that 32% of households seeking emergency food assistance included at least one employed adult and that only 8% seeking help were homeless.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, almost 15 percent of American households do not get enough food to live active, healthy lifestyles. With proper planning, we can all work together to reduce hunger in our nation and reduce the amount of food we throw away!
The “Hunger in New Mexico” report also found that every week, close to 40,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance. That is roughly the size of Farmington, NM needing emergency help with a basic necessity such as food. By working with your local food bank you will be able to donate both non-perishable and perishable food items. The food bank will require that your donation be of a certain quantity in order to assure collection and distribution efficiencies.
Food banks have the ability to consolidate donated food in mass quantities. They then serve as a distributor providing food to local feeding agencies where the food is then distributed to those in need. Through the network of partner agencies that includes food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs, hungry people can access food even in remote locations in our vast state. When working with any hunger relief organization or program be sure to ask questions about how best to ensure food safety on both your side as well as the organization receiving your gift of food.
Your Business Is Protected From Liability
In 1996, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to encourage donation of food and grocery products to non-profit hunger relief organizations for distribution to individuals and families in need.
Feeding America is one of the key nonprofit organizations in regard to food donation in the nation and they have summarized the act’s benefits:
- Protects your business from liability when you donate to a nonprofit hunger relief organization;
- Protects your business from civil and criminal liability when the product has been donated in good faith;
- Standardizes nationwide the definition and guidelines of donor liability exposure; and
- Provides definition of “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. Gross negligence is defined in the act as “voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”
- New Mexico has a complementary act entitled New Mexico Food Donors Liability Act 41-10 NMSA.
- Food Donation Connection: Home | foodtodonate
- Feeding America: www.feedingamerica.org/get-involved/corporateopportunities/become-a-partner/become-a-product-partner/ protecting-our-food-partners.aspx
- Roadrunner Food Bank: www.rrfb.org/legal
Currently, C Corporations are able to take a tax deduction for donating fit and wholesome food to a qualified 501c3 nonprofit organization. Section 170e3 of the Internal Revenue Code was created outlining this deduction as a manner of donating surplus property. With a donation receipt from a feeding agency, food donors can take a tax deduction of one-half of the donated food’s appreciated value, with the limitation that the total deduction cannot exceed twice the donated food’s basis of cost. Be aware that the non-profit feeding partner is not able to place a value on the donated items, but will provide the number of pounds donated. An internal tracking system of your donated food items and their value will need to be developed. Your local feeding agency or tax consultant can provide further guidance.
As of September 2014, the law for non-C Corporations to be allowed a tax deduction for food donation has not yet been renewed. Traditionally, this law has been retroactively extended. Please seek advice from your tax or financial advisor on the status of this deduction.
Feeding America’s Sample Deduction Calculation The food donation is calculated by taking the sum of one-half of the unrealized appreciation (market value minus cost = appreciation) plus the cost, but not in excess of twice the cost of the contributed item.
Selling Price……………………………………… $4.00
Gross Profit equals……………………………. $3.00
One-half of $3.00 equals…………………….$1.50
The maximum deduction can never exceed two times the cost ($2.00) Therefore, gross profit is limited to $1.00
Total nonprofit tax deduction:………………..$2.00
Two Kinds of Food Donor Agencies:
- Food Bank: This entity is a large-scale warehouse of food items, working with corporate food entities that produce larger amounts of food and establish a regular collection schedule. The food bank then sorts, inventories, and stores the food in a warehouse. From there the food is re-distributed to feeding agencies around the region or state that consist of food pantries, soup kitchens and other hunger programs. Food banks tend to collect less perishable food items that can be stored for longer periods of time. Food banks primarily do not serve as the actual site where clients come to receive food to take home to prepare or receive a meal. www.nmfoodbanks.org
- Partner Agencies or Feeding Programs: These are local entities that directly feed hungry people, either in the form of a food pantry, soup kitchen, youth or senior centers, shelter or home delivery service. Many of these entities receive food directly from the regional food bank. They also may work directly with local restaurants, stores or cafeterias. To find a local program go to www.nmfoodbanks.org. Click on “Find Assistance” on the left-hand column and search for a local hunger relief organization by zip code. There are more than 500 hunger programs that receive food from a food bank to distribute to hungry people in communities across the state.
When working with a food bank or feeding agency, always ask questions about their operations to ensure they are working within all the guidelines of safe food handling and storage.
Large Facility Cafeterias, Large Scale Public Events and Sporting Events: There may be opportunities for facilities with larger volumes of food items and prepared foods to donate excess food that is unsold. First, reach out to the local food bank to seek guidance. The food bank staff often has the best knowledge of which of their partner agencies has the ability to participate in rescuing food product after the event is over. The food bank knows the agency’s dry and cold storage capabilities and if they have the proper vehicle to pick up and transport the food donation at the proper temperatures. Setting up a meeting well in advance of the event will help everyone involved prepare for the safe handling of the food and to facilitate the actual pickup of the donated food.
Restaurants and Hotels: Food banks typically work with larger-volume donations. There remains a potential for a restaurant that may host a special event or provides catering and has prepared foods left over to donate. Other situations could be large batches of food types that are not served and can be frozen until donation pickup. Work with your local food bank or feeding agency to find out which food items can maintain safe food handling procedures and what food items can be donated.
Donating Prepared Foods From A Restaurant
A helpful resource for restaurateurs is an online guide called “Food Donation: A Restaurateur’s Guide”, produced by the National Restaurant Association and USDA. infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/12/11907.pdf
Some key best practices on managing prepared foods that will be donated from a restaurant are outlined in the guide:
- Safe donation of prepared food lies in proper temperature, handling and storage time management.
- Avoid dishes that contain potentially hazardous foods that have been cooked, chilled and then reheated again, such as a meat that has been prepared more than once and ended up as stew.
- Store prepared foods ready for donation in shallow, one-time-use recyclable aluminum pans or food-grade clear plastic bags.
- By packaging donations in smaller containers, organizations receiving the food can better manage temperature and avoid any food waste when serving meals.
- Easily identified labeling and dating of donations is essential.
- Chill or freeze cold items that will not be immediately consumed.
- Do not add warm leftovers to frozen or chilled food.
- Always store donated food products in a separate, obvious location in order to avoid cross contamination.
- Do not donate food items that may have been handled by anyone other than kitchen staff.
- For hot dishes, document the time and date it was prepared, temperature cooked at and cooling time. This helps assure that dishes were cooked to a safe temperature and cooled properly.
Labeling of Donated Foods
Requirements for labeling food depend on whether the product is in its original package or has been prepared as a meal.
- Prepared food must be labeled in English with the name of the food, the source of the food, and the date of preparation to be given as donated food. (Example: Pinto Beans-Mom’s Diner-Prepared 8/1/14)
- The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires labels to address the presence of allergens. Discuss these requirements if donating prepared foods with your feeding agency partner.
Understanding Product Expiration Dates
Label dates on food are generally not regulated and do not indicate food safety. Multiple dates, inconsistent usage, and lack of education around date labels may cause consumers to discard food prematurely.
“Use by” and “best by” dates are some of the most common labels used on both perishable and nonperishable products in regard to dating. These dates are the manufacturer’s suggestions indicating what they consider peak quality of the product. The dates are not an indicator of food safety and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The only item that is federally regulated in regard to “use by” dates is infant formula. (Source: NRDC Issue Paper, “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40% of its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill,” August 2012)