How Donating Unused Food Can Help Your Restaurant And Your City

April 10, 2017 Antasha Durbin


From kitchen to plate, the average restaurant creates one pound of waste per dish served. Stop and think about that for a minute. That’s hundreds of pounds per week, thousands of pounds per month...just from one restaurant.


On the flip side, there are millions of Americans who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from; says there are more than 40 million people living in the U.S. today who are food insecure.


But that’s not all — wasted food is also bad for the environment. Food waste is the second largest contributor to landfills where it sits and rots, releasing a potent greenhouse gas known as methane gas.


By donating what would become wasted food, you can help both your restaurant and your city. Here’s how to get started:


Feed Hungry Locals

Hunger isn’t an issue only far-off, developing countries experience — it’s right here in America too.


Your restaurant can help reduce the amount of hungry people in your community by donating any consumable, unused, excess food to various food rescue organizations and homeless shelters. City Harvest is great example.


We know what you’re thinking: “What if someone gets sick from my donation? Is it my restaurant’s fault?” In an effort to incentivize your donation, The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was created to protect restaurants from liability when they donate food.


So before you go tossing food that’s on the verge of expiration, think again. That food could feed a lot of people in need.  



Lessen Your Restaurant’s Environmental Impact

In order for food waste to compost naturally, it has to be exposed to sunlight and oxygen. Unfortunately, the opposite happens when it’s dumped into a landfill. Food incapable of composting due to its conditions leads to soil degradation and the release of methane gas, which is more harmful to the environment than Co2.


If your restaurant reduces or eliminates its food waste, tens of thousands of pounds of preventable waste will be diverted from landfills each year. Meaning the planet will be healthier, thanks to you.


For any spoiled or otherwise inconsumable food, you can separate your food scraps from the rest of your garbage and drop it off at a composting center or compost it yourself.



Get Tax Breaks

Donating surplus food is not only good for your community, it’s also good for your restaurant’s bottom line.


In order to take advantage of the food donation tax deductions, keep track of every donation you make. Get a receipt from the organization you donated to alongside a description of the items, the wholesale cost associated with each item and the date of the donation.


At the end of the year, your restaurant will receive a tax deduction for all qualified food donations. Keep in mind the organizations you donate to must be registered as a 501(c)(3) (charity or nonprofit organization) for your venue to be eligible to receive a tax write-off.  

Don’t wait for your good food to go bad. Choose an organization near you and donate any food items you don’t need. You’ll get to enjoy the tax breaks, while also having a positive impact on the environment and your city!



For more tips to help reduce food waste: 

Read "When it Comes to Portions, Size Matters" 




About the Author

Antasha Durbin

Antasha is an Online Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she spends her days advising restaurateurs on their point of sale systems and her nights writing hospitality-related content. A veteran bartender and server, Antasha enjoys bringing her industry experiences to life through blogging. Her three-year-old son and BFF, Elijah, is her self-proclaimed muse for all things creative.

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