Yes, Restaurant Food CAN Be Donated — VERY Carefully

Do you ever feel queasy or squeamish just thinking about how much food restaurants throw away? Most of us do.

Of course, many of us are guilty of home food waste, too (in fact, Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare, about 96 billion pounds of food waste each year according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Estimating and Addressing America’s Food Losses PDF).

But We’re Doing Better

Since 1992, one organization — The Food Donation Connection — has been trying to do something about restaurant waste.

Bill Reighard, a former restaurant company executive, founded the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Food Donation Connection in order to provide an alternative to discarding already prepared surplus food.

Everybody Wins

Beginning in 2009, the group partnered with the National Restaurant Association to raise awareness among restaurateurs about donating surplus food to help relieve hunger in the United States, rather than discarding it into landfills. So-called “Harvest Programs” provide an alternative to discarding food. The donating process is based on donors receiving economic benefit through tax savings in addition to involvement with community and corporate goodwill.

Major Restaurants Participate

Food Donation Connection currently coordinates Harvest Programs for Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, A&W, NPC International, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Cheesecake Factory, Grand Lux Café, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Famous Dave’s, Auntie Anne’s, Rock Bottom Breweries, Old Chicago, Chop House, Cracker Barrel and Walnut Brewery. We have several other major restaurant chains currently in the development stage of forming Harvest Programs.

The Food Donation Connection program involves six simple steps:

1. Identify the food to be donated
2. Safely package and label the food.
3. Carefully weigh donated products
4. Properly chill, then freeze product in special provided Cambro® pans.
5. Document the quantity of product on a log-hold, pending pick up.
6. Submit logs to the Food Donation Connection for processing



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