Overview and Definition of Terms
The Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (Pub. L. 104-210, 110 Stat. 3011, enacted October 1, 1996) was created to encourage food donation to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals by minimizing liability, in accordance with the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton and named after Rep. Bill Emerson (who encouraged the proposal but died before it was passed), this law makes it easier to donate food by allowing donor liability only in cases of gross negligence.
The Act, (which was incorporated into section 22 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966) clarifies the liability of the individual or organization donating food or grocery products. 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 for ultimate distribution to needy individuals, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury to or death of an ultimate user or recipient of the food or grocery product that results from an act or omission of the donor constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
It also clarifies liability with relation to collection or gleaning of donations. A person who allows the collection or gleaning of donations on property owned or occupied by the person by gleaners, or paid or unpaid representatives of a nonprofit organization, for ultimate distribution to needy individuals shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability that arises due to the injury of death of the gleaner or representative, except that this paragraph shall not apply to an injury or death that results from an act or omission of the person constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
The last section explains partial compliance. If some or all of the donated food and grocery products do not meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, the person or gleaner who donates the food and grocery products shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability in accordance with this section if the nonprofit organization that receives the donated food or grocery products –
1) is informed by the donor of the distressed or defective condition of the donated food
or grocery products;
2) agrees to recondition the donated food or grocery products to comply with all the
quality and labeling standards prior to distribution; and
3) is knowledgeable of the standards to properly recondition the donated food or
The definitions of terms used in these above sections are as follows:
1) APPARENTLY FIT GROCERY PRODUCT.—The term “apparently fit grocery product” means a grocery product that meets a quality and labeling standards imposed by
Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the product may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.
2) APPARENTLY WHOLESOME FOOD. —The term “apparently wholesome food” means food that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.
3) DONATE.—The term “donate” means to give without requiring anything of monetary value from the recipient, except that the term shall include giving by a nonprofit organization to another nonprofit organization, notwithstanding that the donor organization has charged a nominal fee to the donee organization, if the ultimate recipient or user is not required anything of monetary value.
4) FOOD.—The term “food” means any raw, cooked, processed, or prepared edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use in whole or in part for human consumption.
5) GLEANER. —The term “gleaner” means a person who harvests for free distribution to the needy, or for donation to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to the needy, an agricultural crop that has been donated by the owner.
6) GROCERY PRODUCT. —The term “grocery product” means a nonfood grocery product, including a disposable paper or plastic product, household cleaning product, laundry detergent, cleaning product, or miscellaneous household item.
7) GROSS NEGLIGENCE.—The term “gross negligence” means voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.
8) INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT.—The term “intentional misconduct” means conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is harmful to the health or well-being of another person.
9) NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.—The term “nonprofit organization” means an incorporated or unincorporated entity that
a. is operating for religious, charitable, or educational purposes; and
b. does not provide net earnings to, or operate in any other manner that inures to the benefit of, any officer, employee, or shareholder of the entity.
10) PERSON.—The term “person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, including a retail grocer, wholesaler, hotel, motel, manufacturer, restaurant, caterer, farmer, and nonprofit food distributor or hospital. In the case of a corporation, partnership, organization, association, or governmental entity, the term includes an officer, director, partner, deacon, trustee, council member, or other elected or appointed individual responsible for the governance of the entity.
Good Samaritan Food Donation Act_Section 22_Child Nutrition Act of 1966