Written by Tyler Mordecai, current student in the Food Law and Policy Clinic.
I took the Food Law and Policy (FLPC) seminar last year, and I enjoyed the material so much that I decided to enroll in the Clinic this Spring. Now in the clinic, much of my focus has been on FLPC’s state and local food waste initiatives. We work with various state and local advocates to reform and modernize their laws aimed at reducing the more than 62 million tons of food that goes to waste each year. Among other projects, I am currently creating a D.C.-specific food donation resource guide, which will review and analyze the applicable food recovery laws in D.C.
As part of my work on the D.C. resource guide, on Tuesday, March 28th I had the opportunity to testify before the Washington D.C. City Council about a new law under consideration there: The Save Good Food Amendment Act of 2017. The Act would reduce food waste by (1) providing tax credits for donated food, (2) extending liability protections for those who donate food, (3) simplifying D.C.’s food date labeling system, and (4) publishing a food donation guide.
At the hearing, I thought I was only going to read a statement advocating for passage of the law, so it was quite a surprise when D.C. Councilmembers asked questions for more than half an hour! The Councilmembers were incredibly interested, but also a bit reluctant, about the proposed legislation. They used my testimony as an opportunity to ask some very pointed questions and gain more clarity about the bill. Some examples: Why is a tax credit more beneficial than a tax deduction? Which specific foods pose a safety risk after their date label has passed? Which states have enacted similar liability protections, and has there been any issues in those states? The Q&A portion of the testimony was my favorite part of the hearing—it was a great experience to have a discussion with elected officials about how to use the law to effectively reduce food waste.