Have you ever noticed how much food is left over from a cocktail hour or a wedding reception? There’s a lot—from leftover rolls, bread, butter, cheese, seafood, chicken, salad and desserts—that could be donated to your local soup kitchens or pantries to help those who are less fortunate.
A wedding is the perfect opportunity to give back to your community. Across America, one out of seven households is “food insecure.” That’s 17.2 million households, or 14.5 percent of all American households that are not sure when they might eat their next meal or where it will come from.
Let your event planner, caterer or venue know if you would like to donate to the hungry. Thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act passed in 1996, there are no liability issues in donating food to non-profits so long as the donation is in good faith, and the donor has not been negligent in appropriate care of the food. In fact, The New England National Association of Catering and Events’ Feeding Our Neighbors Initiative was one of the first event-industry based initiatives to encourage food donation from events.
Brides, grooms and parents should consider this option. Communication is key. Inform your caterer, venue and event planner of this information. You can even include this in your contract by adding, “leftover food will be donated to _______ and will be arranged to be picked up the following day.
However, you should contact a local food pantry or shelter at least two weeks prior to your wedding to coordinate pick-up and determine what kind of food the non-profit accepts. This will vary, with some shelters being more willing to come that night or the next day after your reception to take any leftover food, to other non-profits, who will have more limited availability and stringent regulations for what types of food are acceptable.
For more information on food donations and a list of food rescue centers in your area, please visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or EPA.