A trio of bills sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington), Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon) and Senator Sam Thompson (R-Burlington, Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth) aimed at reducing waste by encouraging more donation and recycling of food were advanced by the Senate Environment Committee.
Bills sponsored Sen. Diane Allen, Sen. Kip Bateman and Sen. Sam Thompson would help reduce food waste. (Flickr)
“Unfortunately, there are still many in New Jersey that struggle to find the next meal for their families,” Senator Allen said. “We hope that by cutting back on waste at our schools and other institutions we can get more food to people who need it.”
Senator Allen’s bill, S-2360, provides for the establishment of voluntary guidelines to encourage school districts and institutions to donate excess food to local food assistance programs. The guidelines will provide information about what kind of food schools can donate and how to incorporate lessons about the need for food assistance programs into their curriculum.
The second bill, S-3030, sponsored by Senator Bateman, is similar but focuses on providing information about how to reduce, recover and recycle food waste in schools.
In addition to feeding hungry families, the bills also look to tackle some of the environmental issues related to food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), unwanted and discarded food squanders resources, including water, land, energy, labor, and capital. When food waste is dumped in a landfill, it rots and creates methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
“Before we can start collecting donations, we need to help schools identify opportunities to save it from going in the trashcan first,” Senator Bateman said. “We need to start teaching kids from a young age about ways to cut back on food waste so they can help feed the hungry and protect the environment.”
Senator Thompson’s legislation, S-3026, expands liability protections for food donations and gleaning activities and clarifies existing law to ensure potential donors aren’t scared away by the possibility of lawsuits.
“I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know about these kinds of protections,” Senator Thompson. “As long the food meets a few requirements, it should be going to food banks and to families in need. I think this is an important step we can take in fighting against food insecurity.”
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