America Can Finally Give More: Congress Passes Permanent Extension of Enhanced Tax Deductions for Food Donations

Written by The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic

Last week, Congress passed an important piece of tax legislation as part of the fiscal year 2016 omnibus budget that will increase food donations and prevent food waste. The Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) applauds the passage of this portion of the legislation, which provides for a more comprehensive tax incentive policy for food donations.

Food-Donation-Fed-Tax-Guide-for-Pub-2As part of its Food Waste Initiative, FLPC has worked the past few years to support the changes to the tax incentives for food donations that were included in last week’s legislation. Last fall, FLPC partnered with other food recovery leaders to send a sign on letter to Congress, advocating for passage of the America Gives More Act (which was the basis for the language eventually incorporated into the 2016 omnibus budget). Earlier this fall, FLPC and the Food Recovery Project published a guide to the federal enhanced tax deduction, in which we noted that one challenge with the federal enhanced tax deduction is that it was only permanently authorized for C-corporations, but not for other businesses. We are happy to report that the new 2016 omnibus budget addresses that challenge that by making the enhanced deduction permanent for all businesses.

The extension and modification of the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory included in the 2016 omnibus budget contains four significant changes: 1) a permanent extension of the enhanced tax deduction for food donations; 2) increases the deduction’s cap to 15% of the donor’s net income; 3) provides certain taxpayers a new optional formula for calculating the enhanced deduction; and 4) provides a formula for determining the fair market value (FMV) of food inventory. Each of these are explained in more detail below.

First, the legislation permanently extends the enhanced tax deduction, which was previously only available to C-corporations, to all business entities. Large food manufacturers and retailers are generally incorporated as C-Corporations, but many small-scale food entities–such as farmers, ranchers, and restaurants–are not. Although food businesses of all types and sizes have surplus food, businesses that were not organized as C-corporations were previously only eligible for the general deduction for charitable contributions. The general deduction provides a significantly lower financial incentive than the enhanced deduction because it only allows the business to deduct the basis value (or the cost to the business of acquiring the product). By contrast, the enhanced deduction allows a business to deduct the smaller of (a) twice the basis of the donated food or (b) the basis of the donated food plus one-half of the food’s expected profit margin, if it were sold at its fair market value.

In 2005, Congress passed the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act (KETRA) expansion to encourage more food donation by making the enhanced deduction available to all business entities. Food donations increased 137% during the first year of the KETRA expansion. While KETRA was initially intended to apply only to donations made until the end of 2005, Congress repeatedly renewed the expansion each year. However, this year Congress had yet to renew the KETRA expansion that had expired on December 31, 2014, which left C-Corporations once again as the only business entities eligible for the enhanced deduction. In addition, the short term expansions of the enhanced deduction made it difficult for non-C-corporations to plan in advance, and thus, failed to sufficiently incentivize long-term investments in food donation. The 2016 omnibus budget finally extends the enhanced tax deduction to all businesses on a permanent basis. This will incentivize businesses of all types and sizes to donate healthy, wholesome food and to establish long-term food donation partnerships and programs. The legislation’s expansion of the enhanced deduction applies permanently to all business entities in future tax years, as well as applies retroactively for the 2015 tax year.

Second, this legislation increases the annual cap on food donations that are deductible. Previously, the enhanced deduction limited the total deductions for food donations to not more than 10% of a business’ total taxable income each year. The 2016 omnibus budget increases the cap to 15% of the donor’s net income, starting in 2016. This will encourage businesses to donate even more surplus food by allowing them to reap a greater financial benefit each tax year. After 2015, the legislation also allows businesses to carry forward any excess deductions beyond the 15% income limitation for up to five years, which will allow businesses to receive future financial incentives if they do max out on the deduction limit.

Third, the formula for calculating the amount of the enhanced deduction is now clearer for certain business entities. Beginning in 2016, the formula for calculating the enhanced tax deduction will allow certain donors to calculate the Basis Value, or the cost of acquiring the donated food, at 25% of the products Fair Market Value. Under the old formula, some businesses (such as farm sole proprietorships) that used a cash balance accounting method—meaning they track cash in and cash out of their business rather than the accrual method of accounting—struggled to calculate a specific basis value for their food donations. Yet without a basis value, businesses cannot calculate a benefit under the enhanced deduction. This new provision helps to ensure that donors who use different accounting methods can quality for the enhanced deduction by electing to receive a fixed basis value for their goods

Image from flickr user Stephen Rees

Image of food waste from flickr user Stephen Rees

Finally, the legislation clarifies the method of determining the Fair Market Value (FMV) for food products that cannot be sold because of failure to meet internal standards, lack of a market, or similar reasons. Under these circumstances, a business can calculate the FMV of these products by using the price of the same or substantially similar food items that are being sold by the business. Prior to this new formula, several businesses were disadvantaged when they donated unsaleable foods, or foods that are unmarketable in traditional retail outlets, like packaged foods that are missing part of a label, or past-date food that is not allowed to be sold under certain state laws. For foods like that, which were not able to be sold, it was previously unclear whether the food was still worth its original FMV for purposes of claiming the deduction or whether its market value had decreased because of its defect. Having to adjust down the value of perfectly safe and wholesome food would significantly impact the donor’s enhanced deduction and often meant it did not make economic sense to donate such food. However, the new standard will encourage businesses to donate their safe and wholesome unsaleable food because it allows these businesses to claim an enhanced deduction based on a more accurate FMV, thus incentivizing donation by helping to cover the costs of donating such products.

Summit Convenes Future Leaders in the Emerging Field of Food Law and Policy

On December 11, 2015, Harvard Law Today published a story on FLPC’s recent Food Law Student Leadership Summit. “Summit Convenes Future Leaders in the Emerging Field of Food Law and Policy” takes a look at the inaugural event the brought 100 food law students together at Harvard Law School.

Excerpt from the article:

“As more and more people are becoming deeply concerned about what they’re eating and what it means for our health, the economy, the environment, and social justice, participants in a recent gathering at Harvard Law School hope to spark the growth of a nationwide student network for making significant contributions to the emerging field of food law and policy…

The Food Law Student Leadership Summit is just one of many initiatives for the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.  Over the coming months, FLPC will work with interested students to develop a national leadership structure, regional networks, a website and hub for resources, and cross-network projects.

‘The feedback we’ve received from attendees about the Summit has been overwhelmingly positive,’ said Broad Leib. ‘It’s encouraging to hear so many law students say they feel empowered, inspired, and ready to take action as a result of coming together. I look forward to seeing how the work we have begun here grows and reaches new law students in the coming years, and to helping to build a food law student network across the nation.'”

Read the full article on the Summit from Harvard Law School here.

CHLPI’s research cited in Huffington Post Blog

“State Medicaid Restrictions for Hepatitis C Cures Are Creating One of America’s Worst Health Disparities,” published on December 11, 2015 in HuffPost Health Living looks at health insurance providers. The blog post, written by Ryan Clary, Executive Director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, cites research from multiple sources to reach the conclusion that Hepatitis C is “one of the nation’s most grievous and intensifying health disparities.”

Excerpt from the story:

“Until recently, hepatitis C treatments were largely ineffective at managing the disease, and caused debilitating – and sometimes even fatal – side effects that left many patients hopeless in the fight against this silent killer. Thanks to innovative treatments that offer cure rates of near 100 percent with minimal side effects, hepatitis C patients now have an unprecedented chance to live virus-free, and avoid liver failure, cancer-causing cirrhosis, liver transplants and other health impacts.

But rather than embrace groundbreaking treatments for the nation’s deadliest blood-borne virus, most state Medicaid programs are turning their backs on patients by enacting discriminatory restrictions for patients seeking to be cured. In fact, research led by the Center for Health Law and Policy at Harvard Law School found that 42 state Medicaid programs with stringent limitations on who can access a cure could be violating federal Medicaid law, which requires states to cover drugs consistent with their FDA labels.

Read the full blog post about Hepatitis C and health disparities here.

Students Come Together to Learn and Innovate for a Better Food System

By: Tanisha Edwards, University of North Carolina School of Law

CQZvj5lWwAADN_JAt the Food Law Student Leadership Summit, I had the opportunity to talk about food with people who feel as passionately as I do. Law students from all over the country came together to feed off each other’s knowledge and excitement (no pun intended); together, we developed ideas for legal remedies to improve the food system. Not only did we eat fresh, locally-sourced foods from local Cambridge and Boston businesses and food trucks, we also discussed the social, political and environmental impacts of food.

Concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, were a major topic of discussion and the subject of the keynote presentation on Saturday night. I was ecstatic to discuss CAFOs because of their large impact on my native state of North Carolina. Poultry is a growing industry and the waste from food production negatively affects the air, water and health of the people living next to these large facilities and their adjoining waste ponds. From a legal perspective, challenging the food industry has many barriers but many of the speakers at the Summit identified that creativity, especially learning from different disciplines, is the best approach. Think about the lessons we can learn from workers’ rights, environmental justice, and public health.

We also challenged ourselves to think about food access and which communities are able to obtain healthy and affordable foods. There continues to be a systemic gap between low socio-economic communities/communities of color and consistent access to affordable, healthy foods. Unequal access to nutritious food is not just a health problem, but also a challenge for community sustainability. One way to address this problem is to decrease food waste and teach communities about food preservation. As a country, we have to get on the same page that affordable, healthy food for all communities is a pressing issue.

This summit was geared to discuss legal and policy strategies to encourage Americans to eat better and to push for more transparency from both food companies and federal agencies. Although the weekend was short, I left with good friends, good food, and even better ideas.

Would a Single Food Safety Agency Make Food Safer? Reflections from the Harvard Food Law Student Leadership Summit

By: Jeni Lamb, Emory University School of Law

Image by twitter user @baylenlinnekin

Image by twitter user @baylenlinnekin

It’s a bit of a dreary Saturday. The kind of day where it is so overcast that you look outside, know that it is day, but couldn’t say whether it is 10 AM or 3 PM in the afternoon. In my third year of law school at Emory, I would count this as the perfect day to barricade myself in the Emory Law library and catch up on my studying. Today, however, along with more than a hundred other students from 50 other law schools, I am roaming the halls of Harvard trying to find a classroom workshop on food safety.

We are here at the first ever Food Law Student Leadership Summit because each of us has a passion for food law, a topic that for most people inspires the question: what is that? And is closely followed by: Is that a thing? For me, food law is about helping small and medium-size growers achieve a sustainable livelihood by producing healthy food. A big part of this is food safety. In my work prior to law school with the nonprofit Appalachian Sustainable Development, we used voluntary farmer compliance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) program for produce safety audits to market conventional and organic produce to wholesale buyers like Ingles and Whole Foods in the Southeast. While people have come to the Summit from a number of different backgrounds, for the first time in my life I haven’t felt alone in wanting to do legal work in this area.

When we enter the classroom for the late morning session on food safety, we are greeted in the best way to that any food obsessed law student could ask for: a plate of homemade looking chocolate chip cookies, a bag of miniature pears, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. “Help yourself,” says Professor Baylen Linnekin, who will be leading the talk this morning. And we do—it’s just before lunch, and at this point, we are all ready for a snack.

So, we return to our seats with cookies and pears and we dive into the topic for our discussion: will a single food safety agency make food safer?

This past summer, the Obama Administration issued its proposal for a single agency for food safety. The idea has been circulating in congressional hearings for a decade—spurred on by major food safety outbreaks in bagged spinach and the Westland Hallmark scandal. The product of that national debate was an intermediate solution: the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The act significantly expands Food and Drug Administration (FDA) resources and jurisdiction over food safety, but maintains the current division of responsibility for food safety between several agencies.

Whether a solitary food safety agency would make food safer is a difficult question, and we split into groups to brainstorm our ideas. First, we ask what are the motivations for a solitary food safety agency? While FDA and USDA bear the primary responsibility for food safety, at least 15 agencies administer at least 30 laws that relate to food safety. Certainly, it seems that solitary agency may create greater efficiency over the long run. And such an agency could fully adopt a preventative, rather than a reactive approach to food safety.  However, many are concerned that a single agency may create a one-stop shop for lobbying efforts, and even increase the revolving door between the private sector and government.

Next, what would it take to reorganize the regulation of food safety?  Several of us raise the problems with creating a new agency from previously existing agencies. For example, when the border agricultural inspection services formerly administered by the USDA were absorbed under the Department of Homeland Security, the United States experienced a considerable spike in the introduction of invasive species. In the fight of bugs, drugs, and thugs for enforcement resources, bugs lost in a big way – but the cost was largely borne by farmers. In that interim period of reorganization for a solitary agency, could there be a similar risk of food being made less safe?

Finally, would a solitary food safety agency make sense at this point in time? FSMA was just passed, and the FDA is expending considerable resources to implement it. The key mechanism through which FSMA operates is requiring the FDA to issue a suite of rules to address produce food safety,  require preventive controls through the human food supply chain, require preventive controls through the animal food supply chain, and create requirements for third-party auditing of imported foods. Many of us in the room have been a part of the public process while FDA has issued these rules, and filed comments with the agency. For some, it is their first introduction to food safety.  Such diversity in experience creates a number of different perspectives.

The whole picture is complicated by the fact that FDA has not been perfect in its attempt to play a larger role in food safety—its inexperience as a regulator in this area was revealed in its efforts to regulate brewery spent grains, and even its initial attempts to avoid preparing an environmental impact statement for the Produce Rule. But what is to say that a new solitary food agency would not experience similar growing pains? Should we abandon the attempt to have the FDA play a larger role in food safety before that effort even gets underway?

There’s little doubt that the USDA would strongly oppose such a reorganization. The USDA already lost some ground in its role in food safety after FSMA, and the Secretary of Agriculture, as a cabinet level official, would likely vehemently oppose a further reduction in the agency’s jurisdiction over food safety.

Our hour is up. We take a vote, and the group is surprisingly evenly divided between those who would oppose a solitary agency, those who would support a solitary agency, and those who remain undecided. Clearly, there are issues here that, even while most of us have experience working in this area, will need much more time to fully think through.

But our most important lesson is yet to come.

Image taken by twitter user @FoodandAgLaw

Image taken by twitter user @FoodandAgLaw

Before we leave, Professor Linnekin asks how many people had used the hand sanitizer before grabbing a cookie. Myself and two others raise our hands. Yet, none of us asked where the cookies came from, whether the pears had been washed, or had gone out to wash them ourselves.

The reality is, an incredibly high percentage of food borne illness results from improper handling. We all know we should clean our hands before we eat, that we should wash our produce, but we often don’t. Yet, we are willing to push the responsibility for food safety back onto the farmer. While we are future lawyers, we are also consumers too. In the fight for a safer food system, we can’t forget that the burden is also on us as consumers as well as the growers of our food.

Food Recovery Act Introduced in Congress

Today, Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced the Food Recovery Act, a groundbreaking comprehensive piece of legislation aimed at reducing food waste and promoting food recovery. The Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) enthusiastically supports Congresswoman Pingree’s bill, which incorporates many of the key policy changes recommended by FLPC. FLPC staff and students believe that food waste is one of the most pressing environmental, social, and moral challenges facing our food system. The Food Recovery Act includes valuable reforms in key areas in order to increase food recovery in our nation.

First, the Food Recovery Act includes various provisions to encourage farms, groceries, restaurants and institutions to donate excess food to food recovery nonprofits. The legislation strengthens federal tax incentives that can increase food donations and recovery efforts by offsetting the costs associated with food donation. Notably, the Food Recovery Act will permanently extend the enhanced tax deduction, which is currently only available to C-corporations, to all business entities. In the absence of this legislation, businesses that are not organized as C-corporations are only eligible for the general tax deduction, which is too low to offset the many costs incurred with food donation. Extending the enhanced tax deduction to all businesses on a permanent basis will encourage more businesses to participate in food donation. The bill will also extend enhanced tax deductions to businesses that donate food to innovative non-profit retail models, which are excluded under the current law. Non-profit retail models that re-sell donated food at low-cost provide a more sustainable approach to addressing food insecurity while increasing food recovery. The current limitations that only allow the enhanced deduction for foods that are given away for free poses a significant barrier to these non-profit retail models. Along the same lines, the Act proposes to update the liability protections available for food donors by covering donations to these non-profit retail models. The extension of the enhanced tax deduction and liability protections for donation to these innovative organizations will encourage donation to additional food recovery organizations that offer great promise for serving those in need.

Second, the Food Recovery Act addresses the pervasive challenge of consumer confusion over date labels. Most consumers do not know how to interpret date labels like “best by,” “sell by,” or “use by.” While these labels are generally intended to indicate a food’s peak quality, study after study has shown that consumers believe these dates are actually indicators of safety. This consumer confusion is exacerbated by the lack of a uniform, national system for date labeling. Further, FLPC research published in 2013 showed that in the absence of federal law, many states enforce a variety of inconsistent regulations on date labels, some of which ban the sale or donation of safe, wholesome food after its printed date. The Food Recovery Act provides for a sensible national system for food date labels that will reduce waste while maintaining food safety. The bill standardizes food date labels, giving consumers two messages they can easily understand: quality dates will bear the uniform phrase “Best If Used By,” while safety dates—used only on foods identified as high risk on a list to be created by FDA—will utilize the uniform phrase “Expires On.” This uniform system for date labeling will reduce consumer confusion, simplify regulatory compliance, and cut food waste across the supply chain and in consumers’ homes. The Food Recovery Act also provides funding to USDA for consumer education and awareness, including related to the new date labels, which can help ensure consumers are familiar with the labels and able to use them properly.

Finally, the Food Recovery Act will modernize the food practices of government institutions in order to encourage them to reduce their food waste, modeling these best practices for individuals and institutions. The bill will establish the USDA Office of Food Recovery, which will coordinate federal activities related to measuring and reducing food waste. This office can provide a directive plan on how to successfully achieve the newly-announced USDA and EPA food waste reduction goal of halving the amount of U.S. food waste by 2030. The bill also strengthens enforcement of the Federal Food Donation Act, which requires the donation of excess food by any company that receives a contract for food service on federal properties. Additionally, the legislation support changes to the National School Lunch Program procurement rules to encourage purchasing of lower-price non-standard size or shape produce, as well as provide fund projects that help schools connect with farms to decrease food waste.

Food waste leads to wasted money on the part of businesses and individuals, harms our environment by causing us to waste the many natural resources that go into food production, and is inexcusable in a nation where so many people in need could benefit from access to this healthy, wholesome food. FLPC is thrilled to work in support of the Food Recovery Act, which provides a groundbreaking, visionary response to this fundamental challenge facing our nation.

View a PDF of FLPC’s statement of support for the Food Recovery Act. 

Read about the bill on

Harvard’s ties to the Mississippi Delta region continue to thrive and grow stronger and deeper with each passing year

By Colin Ross, Harvard Mississippi Delta Project Co-Chair, HLS ‘16

Celebration copyOn the evening of November 18th, the students and faculty of the Harvard University community came together for the 7th annual Delta Celebration—a chance to share appreciation for the beauty and culture of the region, and to exchange insights about ways to help confront its challenges. Students and faculty of the Harvard Law School and School of Public Health were joined by special guest speaker Professor John Green, the Director of the Center on Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. HLS Dean Martha Minow also took the time to attend and give remarks.

The Delta region continues to face a range of economic, social, and health challenges, from poverty to obesity to unemployment. Since its inception, the Food Law and Policy Clinic has been committed to helping address these challenges, including supervising the student practice organization, the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. At the event, the leaders of the Delta Project presented about their team’s efforts to study and address these challenges for clients in Mississippi. These include:

  • The Food Policy Initiative is working to get healthier, local food into Mississippi’s schools. The team members are working with the state’s burgeoning farm-to-school network to study what policies could further support the growth of farm to school programs in Mississippi;
  • The Health Initiative is doing advocacy work to support a bill in the Mississippi legislature to encourage breast-feeding, and spread the health and economic benefits the practice brings;
  • The Economic Development Initiative is studying the ways grant funding works in the region and how it might be streamlined; and
  • The Child & Youth Initiative is tackling a delicate but critical issue: the obstacles to contraceptive access in Mississippi and how reducing them could end the state’s high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dean Minow praised these efforts and the overall commitment to the Delta as a concrete example of students carrying out the HLS mission to advance justice in society.

Harvard’s ties to the Delta region extend far beyond Cambridge: two fellows, one each from the law and public health schools, live and work in Mississippi for two year terms. HLS Fellow Desta Reff and HSPH Fellow Maya McDoom gave a glimpse into the crucial work they do to connect the policy research students do in Massachusetts to the needs of government and non-profit organizations on the ground in the Delta.

Earlier that day, Professor Green delivered a lunch presentation about innovative methods to undo the confluence of bad trends that lead to negative maternal and child health outcomes in the Delta. By a happy coincidence, a group of Delta region leaders was in town for the Delta Leadership Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the audience swelled as these leaders joined students to hear Professor Green’s remarks.

JG lunch talk 2 copyIn his concluding remarks, Green first described his reaction years ago when he first heard of Harvard’s new public policy efforts to help the Delta region. “Poverty tourism!” he recalls angrily accusing the Harvard representative. Green said his initial skepticism was borne of his general reluctance to trust ivory tower, feel-good intentions over hard data. But this year, Green made the trek up to Cambridge for the Celebration because he’s been incredibly impressed with Harvard’s community-responsive process and the results Harvard has helped produce. Data has clearly shown that Harvard’s policy efforts can and do help improve realities in the Delta, he said.

After the speakers had finished, the assembled crowd of about 50 continued to mingle and network, strengthening the personal connections that will invigorate this important work and facilitate new collaborations and projects to continue contributing to positive change in the Delta region.

To stay up to date on our work in the Delta Region and FLPC’s other projects, follow us on Facebook and twitter.

The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation or Harvard Law School. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.

CHLPI Clinical Instructor Quoted in Bloomberg BNA

On December 3, 2015, Bloomberg BNA published “High Court Considers State Health-Care Databases” by Jacklyn Wille about the value of state health-care databases, which collect information from insurance companies about the services provided to state residents.

Excerpt from article:

“Carmel Shachar, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation who filed a pro-database amicus brief, said the justices’ line of questioning was colored by recent high-profile decisions involving the Affordable Care Act, such as King v. Burwell. In that ruling in June, the high court upheld the availability of tax subsidies under the ACA to individuals who purchase their health insurance on the federal health-care exchange.

In those cases, the justices ‘were really grappling with, “what is the role of the federal government when it comes to health care?”‘ Shachar told Bloomberg BNA. ‘Certainly Vermont argues that health care is considered a very traditional province of the states, and you see pushback that you may not have seen even a few years ago on whether health care is a classic area of state concern or whether it’s more of a federal-state hybrid.'”

Read “High Court Considers State Health-Care Databases” in full.

Health and Food Law & Policy Summer Interns Program – Now Accepting Applications

The Health Law and Policy Clinic (HLPC) and the Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) are now accepting interns for summer 2016. Please see below for details on applying. 


Tentative dates for the 2016 program are Monday, May 23rd to Friday, July 29th for a minimum of 40 hours per week. There is some flexibility with regard to start and end dates as long as summer interns make at least an eight-week commitment.

Summer interns are unpaid. They are eligible for all public interest fellowships including law school summer public interest funding programs that may be available through their schools (these vary by school) and EJA. CHLPI program staff will support accepted candidates with whatever paperwork is needed from the sponsoring organization for these applications.

The CHLPI summer internship program takes place in the CHLPI office located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.


The Health Law and Policy Clinic (HLPC) aims to improve the health of vulnerable populations, including low-income people living with HIV and AIDS, by expanding access to high-quality healthcare, reducing health disparities, supporting community education and advocacy capacity, and promoting legal, regulatory, and policy reforms that contribute to a more equitable individual and public health environment.

Students will have the opportunity to develop cutting-edge policy recommendations at the state and national levels in the legislative, litigation, and regulatory arenas. Projects involve informing both national and state level implementation of the Affordable Care Act through regulatory comments and analysis, providing law and policy analysis to national and state coalitions advocating to protect the Medicaid program, developing a national litigation strategy for anti-discrimination and improved access efforts, and investigating best practices for initiatives to increase access to treatment and service programs serving vulnerable populations.

Students gain a wealth of hands-on experience in current and emerging health law and policy issues, and develop written products such as fact sheets, in-depth reports, comment letters, testimony, presentations, and draft legislation or regulatory guidance. Students have the opportunity to develop a range of problem-solving, policy analysis, research and writing, oral communication, and leadership skills.


Applicants should complete this online form ( and submit the following materials in one consolidated pdf document to

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Writing Sample



Established in 2010, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) addresses the health, environmental, and economic consequences of the laws and policies that govern our food system. FLPC strives to increase access to healthy foods, support small-scale and sustainable farmers in breaking into new commercial markets, and reduce waste of healthy, wholesome food. As the oldest food law clinical program in the United States, the FLPC is a pioneer in the field of food law and policy, and serves as a model for lawyers and law schools entering this field.

The following four initiatives are an expression of our dedication to resolving the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of our food system:

  • Food Policy Community Empowerment
  • Food Access and Obesity Prevention
  • Food Waste
  • Sustainable Food Production

Summer interns in the Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) have the unique opportunity to engage in action-based learning to gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing our current food system. Interns get hands-on experience conducting legal and policy research for individuals, community groups, and government agencies on a wide range of food law and policy issues, and are challenged to develop creative legal and policy solutions to pressing food issues, applying their knowledge from the law school classroom to real-world situations. Examples of project areas include providing policy guidance and advocacy trainings to state and local food policy councils, assessing how food safety regulations could be amended to increase economic opportunities for small local producers, recommending policies to increase access to healthy food for low-income communities, and identifying and breaking down legal barriers inhibiting small-scale and sustainable food production.

FLPC interns have the opportunity to practice a number of valuable skills, including legal research and writing, drafting legislation and regulations, commenting on agency actions, public speaking and trainings, and community organizing, among others. Interns also have the opportunity to travel to meet with clients; for example, FLPC travels to work in places like Mississippi, West Virginia, Navajo Nation, and La Paz, Bolivia.


Applicants should complete this online form ( and submit the following materials in one consolidated pdf document to

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Writing Sample

FLPC Fact Sheets on Food Donation and Date Labeling Noted in The Milford Daily News

On December 1, 2015, The Milford Daily News released “MassDEP launches statewide food donation resource page” about a partnership between MassDEP and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic to encourage companies to donate food.

Read the article below:

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is putting a new emphasis on donating food versus trashing food.

This November, RecyclingWorks, an organization funded by MassDEP, launched their “Food Donation Guidance for Massachusetts Businesses” page on the RecyclingWorks website.

“We were getting a noticeably increased volume of requests to get assistance for starting an effective donation program,” said Lorenzo Macaluso, director of Green Business Services with RecyclingWorks. “The feedback we were getting was that corporations were having lots of questions on how to do it safely and legally.”

RecyclingWorks connects businesses with services and resources to help them create or expand green operations, like recycling, composting and diverting food waste.

In 2014, Massachusetts instituted a commercial food waste ban for companies that dispose of one ton or more of organic waste per week. Since the ban, MassDEP and RecyclingWorks have made it an extra priority to help both businesses affected and not affected by the ban to divert food waste. One of the main ways to divert food waste is to donate edible food instead of discarding it. Most foods can be donated, but choosing the right unspoiled food, keeping it cold and transporting it to those who can eat are all critical aspects of developing a successful food donation program.

This is where RecyclingWorks comes in. The organization partnered with Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic to generate fact sheets on food donation and date labeling to provide to organizations and businesses free of charge on the Food Donation Guidance page. Likewise, the page also provides links and information on local food rescue organizations and food banks, as well as food temperature and storing guidelines.

Macaluso said the page just launched in November so RecyclingWorks doesn’t have statistics yet on who has been utilizing the resources and the links.

Businesses interested in starting a food donation program can visit the Food Donation Guidance page at

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