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reduce, reuse, and recycle… food

Food recovery is a more sophisticated way of saying “food recycling”, making use of unwanted or unused food.

The most common methods of food recovery [pdf] are field gleaning, perishable food rescue or salvage (from wholesale and retail food sellers), food rescue (for prepared foods) and nonperishable food collection (food with long shelf lives). Some of these tactics are familiar to Food Not Bombs workers, food shelf volunteers or dumpster divers.

What you may not know is that under President Clinton, some United States Department of Agriculture agencies (Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency, and the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) and AmeriCorps created a Summer of Gleaning project working with food recovery groups in twenty-two states to help recover food that would have otherwise been thrown away.

They were aided in this program by the passage in 1996 of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act which creates a federal-level protection from liability for accidental damages for people and non-profits who donate food in good faith to help feed the needy.

A person or gleaner shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.

The USDA created a Citizen’s Guide to Food Recovery which includes a handy state food recovery resource directory as well as a list of state food recovery law citations (sadly unhyperlinked). Other government agencies have also published information on food recovery

Hungry and want to talk to the government about it? Their number is 1-800-GLEAN-IT

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