Food Is Made to Be Eaten: New Videos Encourage Food Donation

NRDC teamed up with Chef Tom Colicchio to highlight liability protections for food donors because food is made to be eaten and should not end up in landfills.

Chef Tom Colicchio explains the importance of food donation in the Food is Made to be Eaten Video Series


NRDC & McKenna Media

Every one of us plays important roles in our food system. We produce, prepare, transport, cook, and consume food. Even though food is a basic requirement of life, one in ten households in the United States do not have consistent access to it. At the same time, as a country, we throw away a staggering amount of food—up to 40% of all the food that is grown and imported in the U.S. ends up in landfills or incinerators.  

But what can a restaurant, caterer, cafeteria, or grocery store do if they have a lot of good food that they will not be able to sell? The best option is to make sure people eat it. Often this means donating food through the emergency food system in our country—including food banks, soup kitchens, and apps that match people with meals and food.  

With the help of chef Tom Colicchio, NRDC has created a series of short videos to help food businesses understand the ins and outs of food donation and explain changes to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act that provide expanded liability protections for businesses and nonprofits.

Almost three decades ago, Congress passed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act to help support food donation. It established liability protections for people who donated wholesome food to 501c3 nonprofits in good faith, provided they followed basic health and safety protocols. In other words, if you donated food that was handled according to food safety laws with the intent to help people, but someone got sick and sued you, you would not be held liable. Despite these protections, many potential food donors report not donating food due to fear of liability; and some types of donations were not clearly addressed in the original legislation.;

Last year, the Food Donation Improvement Act (FDIA) was signed into law. The FDIA updates the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act and the liability protections provided to food donors in two important ways:

  1. Liability protections now cover qualified direct donors (schools, restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, farmers, etc.) who donate good food directly to people. Previously, liability protections were only afforded to qualified donors if they donated the food to a 501c3 organization.

  2. Liability protections now cover nonprofit organizations and others that provide donated food products at a low price (an amount that covers the cost of handling, administering, and distributing the food).

Creating a food donation program for a restaurant or food business doesn’t have to be time-consuming or fear-provoking. To watch the videos and access other related resources that will make food donation easier, visit NRDC’s website. To find places to donate food, check out  

For more information on different policy opportunities to boost food donation, check out the Zero Food Waste Coalition’s U.S. Food Loss and Waste Action Plan and Farm Bill report. Reach out to us at if you have any questions or to let us know how you are using the videos. Let’s work together to get more food to more people, instead of wasting it. As Chef Tom Colicchio says, “Food is made to be eaten.”

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