A group 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 were passed by the New Jersey Senate.
Bills sponsored Sen. Diane Allen, Sen. Kip Bateman and Sen. Sam Thompson would help reduce food waste. (Flickr)
“Cutting back on waste at our schools and other institutions is a crucial part of getting more food to people who need it,” Senator Allen said. “Every day, so much food is just tossed out. That can’t be acceptable in a state where so many still struggle with food insecurity.”
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.
“We have an opportunity to teach 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 Bateman said. “If they can learn that early on it will just be second nature to them. Once they understand where food comes from and how badly some people need it, they’ll know better than to just let good food go to waste.”
Senator Thompson’s legislation, S-3026, expands liability protections for food donations and gleaning activities and clarifies existing law to ensure potential donators 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, and if they’re worried about getting sued, they might think twice before donating food,” Senator Thompson. “As long the food meets a few requirements, it should be going to food banks and to families in need.”
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