Oct. 23, 2018

The Israeli Parliament passed the Food Donation Act, a law to encourage the rescue of surplus food

Israel is the sixth country to pass a law to encourage food rescue

Developments in Food Rescue, in Israel and Worldwide

In recent years, increasing awareness and acknowledgement of the global problem of food waste has prompted international organizations and countries around the world to adopt measures to reduce this waste. A partnership between prominent international organizations, including the United Nations (UN), has announced the launch of the world’s first standard for measuring food waste.

The UN and its Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working to implement a uniform international standard for estimating the extent of food waste worldwide. This effort is expected to facilitate compliance with the goal set by the UN in 2016: reducing the amount of food waste by 50% by 2030.

During 2018, the FAO published a series of guidebooks for children, “Do Good: Save Food!” for four different age groups, in order to promote youngsters’ awareness of the economic, social and environmental consequences of food waste. The guidebooks are distributed on the Internet for public use, and include actions that children can take to reduce food waste.

European Parliament In March 2017, the European Parliament set a voluntary target for reducing food waste in the European Union by 30% by 2025, and by 50% by 2030.

United States of America In September 2015, the US Federal Government declared a national goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030, with large food manufacturers including Unilever, Kellogg’s and Nestlé expressing their support. These large manufacturers announced a series of measures to reduce food waste, and the adoption of technologies for measuring and reducing waste. 

In 2018, legislation was introduced in Missouri requiring the State’s largest businesses to donate their surplus food; every business with a sales turnover exceeding $5 million per year would be required to donate 10% of its surplus food to NPOs.

United Kingdom In 2017, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published a report on food waste in England, and made several recommendations, including that the government adopt a national strategy to ensure the collection of wasted food throughout the UK. The government requires businesses above a certain size to publicly report their food waste and to separate food in a gradual process.

In 2016, the UK adopted a multi-year plan to reduce food waste by 20% during the next decade. The program will be managed by the Governmental Food Standards Agency (FSA) in cooperation with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The program will be implemented in cooperation with private sector organizations along the food-manufacturing chain, and will be accompanied by a campaign entitled, “Love Food, Hate Waste”. According to FSA, the campaign will save approximately $26 billion over the coming decade.

Tesco – The British retail giant is a leader in food recovery and is working hard to reduce food waste among its network of stores, and throughout the value chain. In 2018, Tesco announced that all of its branches in the UK would no longer discard food fit for human consumption. Furthermore, Tesco is working with the FoodCloud app, an app dedicated to food rescue (see page 76).

Norway In 2018, the Norwegian Government announced a goal to reduce food waste by 20% by 2020. It further announced a target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 and in June 2017, it signed an agreement with the food industry to achieve this goal.

Germany In 2016, the German government set a goal of reducing food ‎loss by 50% by 2030. Additionally ,the Minister of ‎Agriculture also allocated a budget of $11 ‎million to finance food rescue projects.

France Since January 1, 2016, catering services and restaurants that serve more than 150 customers per day are required to recycle food if the waste totals more than 22,000 pounds annually. Catering services and restaurants that do not comply are liable to be fined $85,400. 

In February 2016, France became the first country in the world to prohibit supermarkets from discarding food. The law passed unanimously in the French Senate, and effectively forces all supermarkets and grocery stores with an area in excess of 4,300 square feet to donate surplus food to food banks rather than discarding or destroying it. According to the French Environment and Energy Management Agency food wastage in France is valued at approximately $18 billion annually.

Italy During 2018, Italy enacted a law prohibiting supermarkets from discarding food and requiring them to work with food rescue organizations, similar to the French law. The main difference in the Italian law is that while the French impose fines on violators, the Italians offer incentives in the form of tax breaks to those businesses that donate their surplus food.

Australia In 2018, the Australian Government approved a national plan to reduce surpluses, allocating a budget of $130 million for ten years, dedicated to this purpose. In addition, in 2017 the Australian Government set a target to reduce the amount of food waste the country produces by 50% by 2030. In Australia, the annual financial cost of food waste is estimated at $20 billion.

Denmark is a pioneer in food waste prevention. As early as 2015, it announced a 25% percent reduction in food waste in five years. In June 2016, the Government of Denmark launched a subsidy program totaling $750,000 for projects that reduce food waste across the supply chain.

Czech Republic In 2018, a new ‎amendment to the country’s Food Law came into force in the Czech ‎Republic that, similar to France’s law, requires retail chains that own over 4,300 square feet to donate surplus food to food ‎banks, thereby reducing food waste.‎

Argentina In September 2018, Argentina passed a “Good ‎Samaritan” law similar to ‎Israel’s Food Donation Act that encourages food rescue.‎

South Korea reduced food waste by 10% in four years, following a 2013 policy requiring households to pay for the amount of food they discard. Food that is discarded is recycled for animal feed or bio-gas used to generate energy

Innovative technology has not bypassed the field of food rescue. Throughout the world there exists a variety of apps designed to help people, companies and agencies along the food value chain reduce their food waste and increase food rescue.

The FoodCloud app allows local charitable organizations to stay informed about surplus products intended for donation at the end of each day and to collect relevant items from store branches. The app has a function for uploading descriptions of products; it also alerts users when food is available for collection so that they can avoid unnecessary travel. The app operates in partnership with the retailer Tesco.

9,500+ users – communities and organizations
44+ of food have been distributed since 2016, equivalent to approximately 45 million meals

Countries: UK and Ireland

The Karma app allows consumers to buy unsold food from restaurants, cafés and grocery stores at the end of the day, for 50% off the normal price.

400,000+ users, (in cooperation with some 1,500 businesses)
440,000+ pounds of fresh food have been rescued Since 2016

Country: UK

The Wise Up on Waste app was issued by Unilever International for professional kitchens. It helps chefs and catering companies track and reduce food loss, thereby saving costs.

Countries: Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Australia

The Olio app facilitates the transfer of edible food between private individuals and local businesses, free of charge. The businesses that donate food pay OLIO for transporting it, thereby reducing the amount of food waste in their business.

710,000 users.
1.1 million+ portions of food have been distributed From 2015 to date 

Country: UK

The Copia app links restaurants, hotels, hospitals, cafeterias and other businesses to charitable organizations. Businesses that donate food pay between $20 and $40 per truck plus 55 cents per pound of food distributed to people in need. Donors are motivated to pay for food collection because it helps them save on the cost of waste removal, especially in those US states where businesses are charged different fees for waste removal.

900,000 meals approximately have been rescued from 2016 to date

Country: United States

FeedHV is a technological solution that connects food donors to NPOs providing food to the needy. The donations consist of prepared food that has not been served or fresh produce, donated by farms, restaurants, catering services, grocery stores, hospitals and universities.

44,000+ pounds of food rescued in 2018

Country: United States

The GOODR app developed to assist businesses track their food donations to charitable organizations, providing businesses with information and tracking when food is collected for donation. Although the businesses pay for the transportation of the food, the food donations help the businesses reduce fees incurred for waste removal while also helping to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. The cost of the transportation varies based on the volume of food collected and ranges from $2,500 to $15,000 per month. It is estimated that for every dollar a business spends on food transportation, it saves $14 in waste removal fees.

990,000 pounds of food have been rescued from 2017 to date, the carbon emissions of the participating businesses were reduced by 27%, and their expenses were reduced by approximately $3.1 million

Country: United States

The Food Rescue Us app connects grocery stores and restaurants with surplus food to volunteers who provide it to needy families.

700  businesses currently donating surplus food
575  NPOs that collect these donations
37 million pounds of fresh food rescued from 2011 to date
26 million+ fresh meals have been rescued

Country: United States

In recent years, increasing public awareness of the importance of food rescue has been accompanied by some initial first steps taken in the public and governmental realm to encourage these efforts. The most significant and foundational of these steps was the recent approval of Israel’s Food Donation Act. 

In October 2018, the Israeli Parliament approved the Food Donation Act during its third reading. The purpose of the law is to protect everyone involved in food donation: donors, NPOs, and their volunteers – all of whom must meet food safety standards – from liability for damages that might be caused by the food they donate. The purpose of the law is to encourage food rescue.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is the largest food rescue organization in Israel. Each year, it rescues millions of pounds of surplus agricultural produce and millions of meals to benefit hundreds of thousands of needy people throughout the country. To this end, the organization carries out a wide range of activities to rescue food including picking fresh produce on farms, collecting agricultural produce from fields and packing houses, and rescuing nutritious surplus prepared meals from a variety of sources. In 2018, Leket Israel rescued approximately 2.2 million surplus meals from IDF bases, hotels, catering companies, corporate cafeterias, and restaurants, as well as some 35 million pounds of agricultural produce collectively worth $42 million (unaudited numbers). Working through its network of 200 partner NPOs throughout the State of Israel, the surplus food benefits 175,000 needy people every week. Leket Israel trains its partner NPOs in food safety and requires them to comply with strict rules on the subject, while also helping them acquire appropriate infrastructure to assist in their compliance with food safety guidelines. 

Among the needy populations that receive rescued food, most lack consistent access to healthy food as well as knowledge or awareness about nutrition and its impact on health. To help address this problem, the organization’s nutritionists conducted 70 workshops in 2018 in which underprivileged groups learned how to ensure healthy nutrition on a limited budget. 

Leket Israel serves as a model with extensive knowledge and experience, and as an example for food rescue organizations around the world. The Global Foodbanking Network (GFN) recognizes Leket as Israel’s national food rescue organization. 

Joseph Gitler, Chairman of Leket Israel, was elected to serve as a member of the GFN Executive Committee; additional representatives of Leket Israel also participate in GFN conferences. Representatives of food banks from around the world come to learn about the activities of Leket Israel, which is considered an international leader in rescuing fruit and vegetables, and cooked food.

Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services

In 2017, the National Food Security Initiative was launched, in cooperation with Leket Israel and Eshel Jerusalem-Colel Chabad. In this framework, electronic benefit transfer cards worth $140 are distributed to more than 10,800 families suffering from severe food insecurity. The pilot program was launched in February 2017 in 36 municipalities around the country, at a total cost of approximately $18 million annually. 

When a family is accepted into the program, the Ministry of Labor and Welfare issues a card loaded with $140 each month via Eshel Jerusalem-Colel Chabad. The card can be used for purchasing food products worth $70 (not including tobacco and alcohol) in select supermarkets and local stores, and the purchase of vegetables, fruits and dry food from food rescue (delivered to the families’ homes) worth an additional $70 ($50 for fruits and vegetables and $20 for dry food). 

In July 2018, the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services published a research (16) report examining the effectiveness of the National Food Security Initiative. Of the 968 families involved in the study, about 150 families benefited from increased food security, with some 70 families moving from severe food insecurity to moderate food insecurity. Approximately 80 families no longer experience food insecurity.

16. National Food Security Initiative – Evaluation Study, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, 2018

The authors of the study noted that the scope of assistance is relatively low and therefore many families continue to suffer from food insecurity. Approximately 61% of the families used the resources made available by the donations for food consumption, rather than consuming other goods and services. This reveals that the current level of assistance is insufficient to relieve them of food insecurity.

Ministry of Agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is leading an inter-ministerial process with the goal of formulating policy to reduce food waste and the depreciation of fresh produce, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. 

The Ministry has introduced several measures to reduce food waste, including:

  • Introducing an educational program in partnership with the Ministry of Education to encourage smart consumption of fruits and vegetables in the school system. 
  • Researching the problem of food waste and proposing solutions to prevent waste during the marketing of fruits and vegetables in Israel. 
  • Initiating a pilot program to examine the feasibility of transferring surplus produce to the needy. 
  • Formulating marketing strategies to encourage the sale and purchase of “ugly” fruits and vegetables. 
  • Publication of guidelines by the Institute of Postharvest and Food Storage at the Volcani Institute on the proper storage of fruits and vegetables in Israeli households. 
  • Publishing guidelines for proper storage of fruits and vegetables for wholesalers and retailers. 
  • Encouraging the establishment of farmers’ markets.

Initiatives in cooperation with Leket Israel

In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture is conducting a joint venture with Leket Israel in which Bedouin workers are employed for harvesting. The field coordinator handles all aspects of harvesting activity, and a dedicated vehicle transports the harvesters to the harvest site and then back to their home communities. It is worth emphasizing that the workers receive fair salary and social benefits. Leket Israel’s trucks transport the harvested crops from the fields to the Logistics Center, where the produce is sorted, packed, and sent via the organization’s trucks to ten distribution centers in six Bedouin communities. 

In addition, a Bedouin dietitian, working on behalf of Leket Israel, runs Nutrition for Life workshops adapted to Bedouin culture. Each workshop consists of four sessions with content emphasizing proper nutrition and the importance of healthy eating on a limited budget. This is combined with content related to personal and family conduct. Reports from the field attest to the personal empowerment that accompanies the participants’ acquisition of knowledge and tools.

Government Companies Authority

The Government Companies Authority intends to publish a set of tools for corporate social responsibility to be used by government companies. In furtherance of joint efforts by Yedid, Leket Israel and the Government Companies Authority, the tools for corporate social responsibility will also include information on donating food to food rescue organizations. This is based on the understanding that when a government company donates its surplus, this draws the management’s attention to wasted resources that are usually unnoticed, thereby facilitating self-improvement and streamlining of operations.

Legislation of Tax Benefits for Donating Surplus Food (17)

In 2017, MKs Merav Ben-Ari, Roy Folkman and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin proposed legislation that would grant a tax credit for food donations worth 50% of the value of the donation. 

The purpose of the bill is to encourage manufacturers, marketers, importers, and others working in the food industry, and growers of agricultural produce and animal-based food products, to donate food, including surplus food, to NPOs that distribute food for free to the populations experiencing food insecurity, by offering a tax credit. 

Similar laws already exist in other countries, including France, Italy, and the US. In France, a law granting tax credits equal to 60% of the value of the donation for food donations was passed in 1988. In the United States, a federal tax credit is granted for charitable donations, and a larger credit for food donations. 

In 2016, a similar law granting tax credits for food donations was enacted in Italy. The law defines the essence of food waste and what are surplus food; sets the hierarchy for food recovery; clarifies the types of foods that can be donated (such as incorrectly-labeled food, food products that have been confiscated by public authorities and are safe for human consumption, etc.); clarifies the situation of charitable NPOs that distribute food regularly; and simplifies and amends the regulations regarding food donation.

17. Amendment to Income Tax Ordinance (Credit for Food Rescue) 5778-2017

The Natural Step Israel (TNS)

TNS Israel is a public benefit corporation that works to prevent and reduce food waste in Israel in several ways:

  • In 2018, the organization launched the Israeli Convention for Food Waste Reduction, a statement that businesses and public organizations can sign to declare their commitment to reduce food waste. 
  • TNS provides educational lectures for elementary and junior high school students on the subject of reducing food waste. 
  • TNS works to promote projects that reduce food waste in organizations with institutionalized food service and encourages retail outlets to reduce the price of food products with short expiration dates. 
  • TNS promotes awareness of the problem of food waste through the website www.lovefoodnotwaste.co.il 
  • TNS declared March 12, 2019, as Global Food Waste Day (FWD). The day will be devoted to the problem of food waste and loss, and will be observed in collaboration with public and private peer organizations around the world. 
  • TNS established the Sustainability Transition Food Waste Lab, a wide-ranging project involving partners in the entire food industry, with the goal of creating multidimensional solutions to reduce food waste.
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