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New law offers protections to restaurants wanting to donate leftover food

By Zach Rael

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    OKLAHOMA CITY (KOCO) — A new law signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will give more protections to restaurants looking to donate leftover food.

Rep. Anthony Moore, the author of the bill that was signed into law, said restaurants have been hesitant in the past to donate their unused food out of fear that they don’t have any protections from being sued. The law helps ensure that safe food doesn’t go to waste.

“Rather than going out back and throwing it in the dumpster, look for a place down the street where you can donate this food and be a good neighbor,” Moore said.

The protections will help places like restaurants and school cafeterias to donate unused food to those in need.

“It gives them a level of confidence that, when they donate food, they won’t be held liable for what is done after the fact,” Moore said. “The reason they don’t donate food is because they are worried about liability issues.”

Feeding America estimates up to 40% of all food in the United States is wasted each year. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation.

“Last year, we served about 122,000 meals through our center here at the corner of 10th and Penn,” said Charles Powell, the area commander of the Salvation Army Central Oklahoma.

The new law has the approval of Powell, as well as the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. The association said in a statement that they are “in support of this bill as it takes liability off of restaurants when donating food to food pantries. We are thankful for the legislature and Governor Stitt’s support to secure passage.”

The law doesn’t protect an entity if they willfully or negligently donate spoiled food.

Because it was just signed by the governor, the law will not go into effect until Nov. 1.

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