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John A. Aitken, Balca Alaybek, Rob Hartman et al., Initial assessment of the efficacy of food recovery policies in US States for increasing food donations and reducing waste, 176 Waste Mgmt. 149 (2024).

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the primary impact of two categories of food recovery policies on food donation and the secondary impact on food safety, food waste, and food insecurity in U.S. states. As one method of food recovery, food donation can reduce food waste while mitigating food insecurity, and it can be promoted in U.S. states through strong liability protection policies that provide legal protection to food donors and through tax incentivization policies that financially reward food donors via deductions and/or credits. To provide an initial evaluation of the effects of these policies, we coded each state’s food recovery policies in 2012 and 2018 and compared strong policies versus weak policies. Using data from multiple sources, we found that states with stronger liability protection policies had more food donations, and states that provide tax incentivization had more food waste. Although our analyses were correlational, rather than causal, and were reliant upon limited data, our results demonstrate that the current food recovery policy landscape in U.S. states does relate to important food waste outcomes. We discuss the implications of these findings for crafting more effective policies that encourage food recovery.