Stop food waste and fight food insecurity by amending the Emerson Act


Stop food waste and fight food insecurity by amending the Emerson Act

This petition made change with 60,935 supporters!
Petition to
US Congress

Why this petition matters

Victory! On December 23, 2022, Congress passed the Food Donation Improvement Act, which amends the Emerson Act. We did it!

In 2021, over 35 million American households experienced food insecurity. And in 2022, due to soaring inflation and the end of COVID-19 relief programs, that number is estimated to rise even further—to 55 million people.

Meanwhile, $408 billion is spent processing, transporting, storing, and disposing of food that never gets eaten each year. That’s millions of pounds of fresh food—35% of all food in the U.S.—going to waste, instead of going to those who need it.

This barrier to improving food security is not always caused by a lack of food: It’s often caused by a mismanagement of food. 

But there’s good news: There are solutions in plain sight, and we need your help to take action. 

Meet the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a piece of legislation designed to encourage companies to donate their surplus food and grocery products to nonprofits by providing civil and criminal liability protection for food donation. So if you donated fresh lettuce, following all applicable laws and food safety protocols, and someone got sick after eating it, you couldn't be held liable. Sounds good, right? 

Well, many provisions of the Emerson Act are still unclear, so donors remain afraid of legal liability. In fact, food manufacturers, retailers, farmers, and restaurants still often cite fear of liability as the main reason they don’t donate food, which results in perfectly viable food being wasted—instead of given to those in need. 

Organizations, corporations, nonprofits, and food rescue advocates are calling on Congress to expand and clarify existing liability protections for food donation, which can help provide immediate relief to the millions of people across America experiencing food insecurity. The protections should accomplish the following: 

1. Direct USDA to clarify key terms and conditions within the Emerson Act to raise awareness and reduce fear of retribution.

2. Broaden protections to include more types of food donations, including items sold at low cost and donations offered from food businesses directly to end recipients.

3. Expand the federal enhanced tax deduction for food donation. We need you and your voice to help us spread the word.

We need you and your voice to help us spread the word. Let’s call on our representatives from Congress to fight food insecurity, and make senseless food waste a thing of the past. 

Your mission: Call your Congresspeople and urge them to cosponsor/support the legislation. They want see that their constituents care about this bill—so let's get loud!

Update: Thanks in huge part to this petition, members of Congress have introduced a bill in both the House and Senate! The Food Donation Improvement Act of 2021 address two of our three major asks of Congress (numbers 1 and 2 above.) Now, we just need to get it passed! 



This petition made change with 60,935 supporters!

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