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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 2, 1996


Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 2428, a bill that will facilitate the donation of food and grocery products to needy individuals. The bill, known as the "Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act," exempts those who recover or donate apparently fit food and groceries from criminal or civil liability arising from those activities.

Through food recovery and donation, Americans can share with the hungry a portion of our country's immense food resources that would otherwise be wasted. The Department of Agriculture has supported the recovery and donation of packaged food for years. Moreover, during this Administration, the Department has undertaken a national initiative to help Americans "rescue" food of a highly perishable, but nutritious nature. Most of this food is prepared in restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and other institutional settings and would otherwise have been thrown away. Through this important effort, thousands of hungry people have been fed at no cost to the Federal taxpayer.

In working with various private sector donors and food banks, however, it has come to light that liability concerns are often an impediment to food recovery and donation efforts. Although many States have enacted their own "Good Samaritan" laws to support food recovery and donation efforts, many businesses have advised that these varying State statutes hinder food donations.

This legislation will end the confusion regarding liability for food recovery and donation operations through uniform definitions in one national law. This will encourage the charitable and well-intentioned donation of food to the needy, while preserving governmental authority to protect health and food safety. For these reasons, I am pleased to sign this bill into law.



October 1, 1996.

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