On October 1, 1996, President Clinton signed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individual. This new law makes it easier to donate. Here is how:

  • It protects donors from liability when donating to a nonprofit organization.
  • It protects donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the needy recipient.
  • It standardizes donor liability exposure.  Donors and their legal counsel no longer have to investigate liability laws in 50 states.
  • It sets a liability floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products.  According to the law, gross negligence is defined as "voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with the knowledge (at the time of the conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.
  • Congress recognized that the provision of food close to recommended date of sales is, in and of itself, not grounds for finding gross negligence.  For example, cereal can be donated if it is marked close-to-date for retail sale.


Donating is easier now than ever before. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank continues to meet or exceed the same federal food-handling and safety regulations that govern the food and grocery industry.

Click here for the complete text of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.