To Donate or Not to Donate?

Melissa Radiwon Marketing Manager Blog Editor

Melissa Radiwon
Marketing Manager
Blog Editor

You wouldn’t think the question would exist: should we donate the food or send it to the landfill? Sadly, it does and there are several reasons that keep this question in the conversation.

According to the ReFED: A Roadmap to Reduce Food Waste, liability concerns, fragmented regulation, handling/transportation/storage, and financial viability are all barriers to food donation.

The Roadmap calls out several solutions that could overcome those barriers and spotlights the top three – donation tax incentives, standardized donation regulation and donation matching software – that represent 66% of total recovery diversion potential.

Food waste, restaurant/grocery donate There has been movement on the tax incentive front. In late 2015, President Obama signed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) act into law making various businesses eligible for enhanced food inventory deductions.

“But that doesn’t mean the work is done,” says JD Lindeberg, RRS President and contributor to the Roadmap. “Stakeholders need to continue the work to educate, research, analyze and develop legislation that will reduce food waste while solving our hunger problem.”

More movement is also needed to simplify the complicated web of state and local laws that govern food safety and hamper the donation of still-fresh food. The Roadmap offers several action items to move forward:

  • Businesses/Food recovery organizations map regulations
  • Foundations fund research for new policies and effective advocacy strategy
  • Nonprofits educate businesses/food recovery organizations
  • Nonprofits contribute to science-based food safety research

Perhaps the coolest solution (for those of us obsessed with our smart phone apps) highlighted in the Roadmap is the donation matching software.  Real-time information of available food helps food recovery organizations coordinate or route for pickups – allowing for smaller quantity pickups along the same route.

Community Food Rescue (CFR) located in Montgomery County, Md., launched Chow Match a web-based app that matches donors, recipient organizations and volunteers based on several criteria including type and quantity of food, timing of pickup and location.


Third in a four part series, this series aims to spotlight various aspects of the recently released report ReFED: A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste.

Brief summary of the report development: The “Roadmap” took an analytical approach to assessing where food waste occurs and the economic potential of various solutions, then outlined 27 actionable solutions. The report was developed by consulting firms Deloitte Consulting LLC and RRS, with close collaboration from The Closed Loop Fund, MissionPoint Partners, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. ReFED also built an advisory board of leading organizations across public and private sectors. For more information about ReFED and the report, please visit