Celebrating the 21st anniversary of
Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was created to encourage food donation to nonprofit organizations by minimizing liability. Signed into United States law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, this law, named after Representative Bill Emerson (who encouraged the proposal but died before it was passed), makes it easier to donate 'apparently wholesome food' by excluding donor liability except in cases of gross negligence. See the law text.

After the initial publicity around the bill passing into law, the protections provided in the bill were widely forgotten and its benefits to businesses have been underutilized. According to a study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance in 2013, 54% of businesses in the retail and whole sale sector expressed that liability is a barrier to donating. However, according to the Legal Guide to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, by the University of Arkansas School of Law, “…a thorough search of filings and reported decisions did not turn up a single case that involved food donation-related liability or any attempts to get around the protections offered by the Bill Emerson Act. Additionally, several leading food recovery experts and anti-hunger advocates report that they are unaware of any such actual or threatened lawsuits.” 

2017 EMIES Awards!

In continued celebration of the Good Samaritan Act, San Diego Food System Alliance is now accepting applicants for the 2017 EMIES Unwasted Food awards for businesses, organizations, and institutions with exemplary practices around prevention/ source reduction, food recovery and donation, feeding people, feeding animals, and composting/ recycling. EMIES applications are due Friday September 8th by 5:00 pm.

Awardees will be recognized during the Food Waste Solution Summit III in San Diego at the Jacobs Center on September 26, 2017. 

Additional information below on 2016 award recipients and other applicants with innovative practices around food waste prevention, recovery, and recycling


2016 EMIES Unwasted Food Award Winners

barleymash (Restaurant) 
Source Reduction: Nightly ordering and cross-utilizing ingredients in menu. 
Animal Feed: Unusable fish scraps returned monthly to seafood supplier to become cat food. 
Recycling: Take pre-consumer scraps weekly to a local farm for composting. 

Culinart Group  and Francis Parker School   
Source Reduction: Inventory control, frequent ordering, smaller plate size, and weekly menu planning that creatively uses leftovers. 
Donation: Weekly donations to San Diego Rescue Mission. 
Recycling: Pre-consumer and plate waste go to Miramar Greenery. 

SDSU Dining 
Source Reduction: Forecasting to avoid overbuying and overproducing. 
Donation: Throughout the year to multiple recipients, including SDSU students in need. 
Recycling: On-site composting in community garden. Pre-consumer food scraps and post-consumer food from trayless facilities go to Miramar Greenery. 

Sharp HealthCare
Source Reduction: Worked with supplier FreshPoint to be able to order ugly produce. 
Soup Stock program uses up vegetable scraps. 
Donation: Recently launched program with San Diego Rescue Mission. 
Recycling: Pre-consumer and post-patient food go to Miramar Greenery and the Otay Landfill composting site. 

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority   
Donation: Airport concessionaires donate, with collection and storage by Bradford Airport Logistics. 
San Diego Rescue Mission picks up 3 times/week. 
Recycling: Started in 2010 and continues to expand. Miramar Greenery receives pre-consumer food from Airports 40 food service sites, USO Facility, and 3 prep kitchens; currently working with restaurants to compost post-consumer waste. 

Unwasted Food: Bright Spots

Ramona Unified School District: Students help operate this comprehensive program, which started with on-site composting and feeding animals, then led to source reduction and food donation. 

Kitchens for Good: Culinary students are learning best practices in unwasted food, through donation, on-site composting, and the organizations zero food waste mission. 

Cuyamaca College: Runs an on-site composting program through cooperative efforts between a student intern, Child Development Center staff, and school garden volunteers. 

Hazard Center Retail Center: Coordinated the rollout of City of San Diego composting program to all 8 food service tenants in its disposal contract. 

Mission Valley Resort: Incentivizes employees with monthly rewards to educate and improve recycling and food waste efforts. 

San Diego Padres: Donated 10 tons of food to Father Joes in the past year, and participates in the City of San Diego composting program. 

Unwasted Food: New Programs

Vons: Daily donations of meat, dairy, and produce from 48 San Diego locations to San Diego Food Bank, inspired by Albertsons Fresh Rescue program with Feeding America San Diego. 

Waste Not San Diego: A partnership of Specialty Produce and San Diego Food Bank to collect food donations from restaurants in their supply chain. 

Starbucks FoodShare: A partnership with Feeding America San Diego to recover unsold prepared food from 190 locations.