Hatch introduces Food Donation Act to increase contributions

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior Republican in the United States Senate, introduced legislation that will bolster food donations across the country.

The Food Donation Act provides liability protection to food donors and nonprofit organizations that help those in needand establishes a plan for making clear standards that ensure donated foods are fit for consumption.

Grocers and restaurants continue to cite liability concerns as a barrier to donating food to food-insecure families,” said Hatch. “That’s why I am happy to introduce this legislation, which will empower these organizations to deliver excess food to those who need it most. Most importantly, this bill directs the establishment of clear standards for donated foods, so that increased food donations do not come at the expense of quality or the dignity of those in need.”

The bill clarifies and strengthens the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, asdonating entities continue to cite liability concerns as a major barrier to contribution. This legislation strengthens and extends liability protections for these groups in a way that will increase food donations but not jeopardize food quality or food safety.

Statements of Support:

Emily Broad Leib, Director, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic

“The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is excited to see Senator Hatch taking action on such a pressing issue. FLPC is pleased to support this bill, which incorporates some of the key policy changes we’ve advocated for: clarifying the Emerson Act’s coverage, ensuring that protections address the modern food recovery landscape, and eliminating onerous barriers to increase food donations. By making small changes to the Emerson Act, the Food Donation Act can support big increases in wholesome food donations.”

Jim Yorgason, President & CEO and Ginette Bott, President-elect & CEO (May 2018), Utah Food Bank

“Legislation in question will help provide continuity and clarity by extending protections for donating entities so that we can deliver more poundage to the citizens of Utah, so that donors and distributors will meet all quality and labeling requirements, and that food can be continue to be distributed through nonprofits to individuals who will not have to pay for these products.”

Carrie Calvert, Managing Director of Government Relations at Feeding America

“Across the United States, there are more than 41 million Americans facing hunger. This legislation streamlines the food donation process by reducing liability for food donors, while ensuring food quality and safety are intact. We are grateful to have such a champion for ending hunger in Senator Hatch.”


  • This legislation reduces liability for food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants (donating entities) that seek to donate surplus food to undernourished or food-insecure persons, expanding from the Emerson Act (the Act), which only included individuals, businesses, and food recovery organizations;
  • The Act protects donating entities from civil and criminal liability for injury caused by donated food, unless they act with gross negligence or intentional misconduct;
  • To receive protection under the Act, donated food must:
    • Be donated in good faith;
    • Meet all federal, state, and local quality and labeling requirements (if the requirements are not met, then the food must be reconditioned until they are);
    • Be distributed by the receiving nonprofit to needy individuals;
    • Not be paid for by the needy individual;
  • Introducing this legislation will broaden the Act to better align with current food recovery practice by:
    • Clarifying the Act’s coverage and expanding its protections;
    • Assigning regulatory authority to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) so that clear standards can be established.