Planners Have No Excuse Not to Donate Food

Jim Spellos, Flip the Script, food donation, donate food, Meeting U
Food Donation

The event is over. It was a huge success, with hundreds of people supporting your organization’s mission.

Attendance was a bit lower than last year but still above your target goals. You’re putting all of your materials together to bring them back to the office, and it’s time for one last task. While some of us may at this point wander into an establishment to socialize with our peers, the real unfinished business is in the kitchen. Between the overage of food that is typically prepared, and the numbers that didn’t match the guarantee for your event, there is likely to be plenty of food that was never served. What’s going to happen with that?

Unfortunately, what typically happens is that food gets thrown away. I’m sure you’ve all heard the comments about the hazards of doing anything other than that. We’ve been told that it’s best not to donate food because of liability in case something happens to someone who eats the food. However, this is not only misinformation, it is flat out incorrect.

For 20 years, meeting and event planners (as well as all organizations) have been protected by the nation’s Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. In 1996, this law was passed through both houses of Congress, protecting all donors, stating that except in cases of gross negligence (cases where the donator knew that the food was likely harmful to the health of another person), all people and organizations are protected against liability.

Need another reason why you should consider donating the food? In 2014, nearly 50 million Americans lived in food insecure households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, even though about 14 billion pounds of food are sent to landfills each year. With all the glorious excess our industry has, why aren’t we making more of an effort to take care of others who are less fortunate than us?

Perhaps, we change the program. We ensure your event’s final task includes going back into the kitchen to make sure prepared but not served food finds its way to someone who will be forever thankful. One of the best guarantees that this will happen is by placing a clause in your contract that states food donation is a requirement of the facility hosting your event. After all, isn’t that the best ending your meeting could have?

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