City Harvest Donates More Than Just Food

With our tech prototype coming together better than we could have hoped, we set out to settle our uncertainty around the legality and liabilities surrounding food sharing. If a generous student decided to share a peanut granola bar, would that student be liable if a peanut-allergic student accepts the granola bar? Essentially, we needed to be certain that any food sharing with harmless intentions would be met with unconditional support from the community (as well as legal support). Without any previous grasp of food laws, we sought advice from City Harvest, the widely-known “food rescue” agency based in NYC; noting the thoroughness and success of their enterprise, we safely assumed that they undertook such an investigation as the one we would have to undertake with our own, incomparable resources. With their help, we were able to confirm definitively that any and all participants who have chosen to share food and have done so without negligence or intentional misconduct are not liable for damage incurred as the result of someone accepting the food. City Harvest presented this information in association with Feeding America, a similarly-intentioned nonprofit, citing The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act and a portion of New York State Law which protect those who wish to share food. The federal Act is the 1996 affirmation of colloquial Good Samaritan Laws, which have popularly been used to protect generous people from unintended consequences, but have not until this Act been implemented concretely into official, permanent law. According to the enactment of:

Public Law 104–210 on Oct. 1, 1996

110 Stat. 3011

104th Congress

“A person or gleaner shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization… A nonprofit organization shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product that the nonprofit organization received as a donation in good faith from a person or gleaner”

This definitively protects both those who wish to share food and us, facilitating the sharing. The only exception outlined in the law is if the ‘unintended consequence’ of sharing food is actually intentional and

“results from an act or omission of the person, gleaner or nonprofit organization, as applicable, constituting gross negligence [defined as “voluntary and conscious conduct (including a failure to act) by a person who, at the time of the conduct, knew that the conduct was likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person”] or intentional misconduct.”

The cited 1981 New York State Law (Article 4-D, Section 71-2) doubles down on this protection, stating that

“a good faith donor of any canned or perishable food or farm product … shall not be subject to criminal penalty or civil damages arising from the condition of the food … unless the donor has actual or constructive knowledge that the food is adulterated, tainted, contaminated or harmful to the health or well-being of the person consuming said food.”

 

Along with settling our legality and liability concerns, City Harvest aided our selection of food-inventory organization categories (based on food type). These categories are detailed below along with the parameters of “Unacceptable Conditions” that we will borrow from to form our own food sharing standards.

cityharvest_img

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