The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas project maps out the laws and policies related to food loss and waste (FLW) in countries around the world. By comparing countries side-by-side and creating a first-of-its-kind interactive resource designed to inspire long-term policy solutions to food waste, hunger and climate change
While we are looking at numerous solutions to food loss and waste, one known effective solution is the use of government grants and incentives. These funds can be used to:
- Acquire equipment and infrastructure for cleaning, storing, processing and transporting food for donation
- Support new innovations and emerging technologies that will make food donation more efficient and sustainable
These funds are especially critical in countries where infrastructure limits food recovery efforts and where donors consider tax incentives to be insufficient. In the first year, we have analyzed 5 countries; in the coming year, we will analyze 10 additional countries. See below to see how the first year countries compare:
The U.S. stands out among countries as one of the most generous in terms of governmental support for food recovery and donation. Ongoing federal support goes to all states from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides nearly $100 million in administrative support and $500 million in surplus food items to local agencies per year. Several federal competitive grant programs also support food banks and food donation efforts. Various states also appropriate funds for state food purchase programs, including the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP).
Canada stands among countries as one of the few that offers governmental support. The federal government released a Food Policy Guide for Canada on “food-related decisions that includes a $26.3 million fund to provide resources for innovative food waste reduction proposals. Furthermore, they created the Local Food Infrastructure Fund, a 5-year, $50 million initiative ending March 31st, 2024. This includes funding to help small organizations improve infrastructure and purchase equipment while also supporting the work of larger organizations to provide access to safe and nutritious food.
While Argentina does not offer a federal law that explicitly allocates grant funding for food loss and waste or food donation, the government has readily engaged with private sector actors to support food recovery innovation. For example, in 2019, the federal government launched a contest to grant non-reimbursable financing for innovative food waste solutions in Argentina’s horticultural sector. This grant is administered under the government’s National Food Loss and Waste Reduction Program and in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank through its “#SinDesperdicio” platform. This public-private partnership has the potential to support emerging solutions to food waste and food recovery throughout the country.
Government assistance is particularly important in India, where a lack of infrastructure and capital frequently limit food recovery efforts. Government recognition programs can also function as a significant incentive for food donors. Nevertheless, there are currently no federal grants or public funding mechanisms specifically designed to support food donation in India, nor has the government created any recognition programs.
Mexico has identified insufficient cold-chain infrastructure as well as a lack of financial support for food recovery as among the main drivers of food loss and waste. Nevertheless, there are currently no federal grants or public funding mechanisms specifically designed to support on-farm recovery or food donation. Investments in cold-chain management have focused on export supply chains rather than domestic food recovery efforts, and federal grant funding has targeted rural development and poverty reduction but failed to support food donation.
Food donation offers a critical solution to ensuring that food gets to people who need it rather than winding up in a landfill. This, in turn, requires supportive laws and policies that enable food donation to reach its full impact. One way that governments can support food donation is through the provision of grants and incentives. While these five countries offer differing levels of government funds for food donation, all five could benefit from creating or enhancing government grants and incentives in order to increase food recovery and decrease food loss and waste.