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Reducing Food Waste: A Plan for Logan City

Expanding Logan City's Green Waste Program

Currently, Logan City offers curbside pickup and composting for green waste such as grass, leaves, hay, straw, branches, and shrubs. They do not offer any composting services (besides home composting tips) for food waste [1]. 

Many cities, including Santa Monica, California and Salt Lake City, Utah, accept food scraps in their composting facilities. 

Logan City should expand their green waste composting program to include food scraps. 

This expansion would complement the measures Logan City is already taking toward sustainability. If one third of the food that is usually sent to the landfill was instead composted, it would save 2,962 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent [2].

Re-Thinking School Lunches

The USDA requires a certain amount of fruits or vegetables to be served to each child who eats school lunch. Unfortunately much of this food is thrown directly away [3]. 

We suggest a few changes that may reduce food waste at schools. 

Serve food that is culturally appropriate.

The schools that waste the most food tend to be schools in low-income neighborhoods. Children living in these areas often have limited at-home exposure to the foods that are served at school; therefore children are unwilling to eat the fruits and vegetables served to them. Considering serving foods the children will actually eat will decrease waste.

Serve food that is child-friendly.

Often the food served at schools is unappetizing to children simply because of the way it looks. Supplying food that is visually-appealing may increase intake.

Packaging on individually-wrapped foods such as applesauce and fruit cups, baby carrots, and string cheese may prohibit children from eating these foods even if they would like to.

Allow uneaten food to be saved for later.

In many places, food safety laws prohibit food from being re-served. Despite this, if children could take home what bits of their lunch they didn't eat food waste would be reduced.

Compost what is not eaten.

When fruits and vegetables cannot be saved recovered, they should be composted. If Logan City does not expand their composting program to include food, schools can invest in their own composters. 

Restaurants: Donate Uneaten Food and Compost the Rest

Tax breaks

Taxpayers who contribute "appreciated inventory" are permitted a charitable deduction for the amount equal to the contributed property.

Under IRC Section 170 (e) (3), a corporation is entitled to a deduction with respect to a contribution to a public charity or to a private operating foundation of appreciated property described in IRC Section 1221 (1) and (2). [4]

Legal Protection

The Federal Bill Emerson “Good Samaritan” Food Donation Act is a federal law enacted in 1996 to encourage the donation of food products to non-profit organizations [5].  This act protects businesses from liability when they donate to a non-profit organization. Businesses are protected from civil and criminal liability when any food product is donated in good faith, even if it later causes harm to a recipient.  This law is standardized in every state, and sets the exception of “gross negligence”; when donating businesses are only held accountable for harm of the recipient if their donations are determined to have been consciously given with the knowledge that it would harm the health or wellbeing of a person.

Protections for businesses that Utah laws provide are found in the Utah Code, Title 4, Chapter 34, Charitable Donation of Food [6]. This section states that any person engaged in the business of processing or distributing agricultural products may donate those products to a non-profit organization.  With the same exception of gross negligence, donors of food products will not be held liable for damages to recipients' health in any civil or criminal action.

Donate Expired Food

Most food is safe past its expiration date, but food safety laws prohibit serving it to patrons. While restaurants cannot use this food, food pantries can distribute it. 

The Utah Food Bank offers recommendations for safe practices when donating food. The "use of good judgement" should supersede any guidelines [7].

Where to Donate Food in Cache Valley

1. Phone call to Logan City Landfill [Telephone interview]. (2016, April 19). 
2. Waste Reduction Model (WARM). (2015, March). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/warm/Warm_Form.html
3. USA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2012, January). Final Rule Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Retrieved from http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/child-nutrition-programs 
4. Tax Benefits for your Company. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/give-food/become-a-product-partner/tax-benefits-for-your-company.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ 
5. United States., Congress., House. (n.d.). Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act
6. Utah State, General Session. (1990). Utah Code Chapter 34: Charitable Donation of Food. Retrieved from http://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title4/Chapter34/C4-34_1800010118000101.pdf 
7. Utah Food Bank. (2010). Donation Cheat Sheet [Brochure]. Author. Retrieved from https://www.utahfoodbank.org/docs/UFB_Complete_Safe_Food_Donation_and_Consumption_Guidelines_12-2010.pdf