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Leftover Food Donation in the SNPs


The California Department of Education (CDE) is sending this communication to remind program operators of the requirements when donating leftover food and beverage items from the School Nutrition Programs (SNP).

A recent amendment (S.5329 External link opens in new window or tab.) to the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, expanded liability protections for direct donors, including school food authorities (SFA), who donate food and beverage items directly to end recipients.

While Section 9(l) of the National School Lunch Act (NSLA), titled, Food Donation Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) does not permit SFAs to make direct donations to individuals, SFAs are allowed to make food donations to eligible local food banks or charitable organizations per the definition below:

  1. FOOD DONATION PROGRAM.—

    1. IN GENERAL.—Each school and local educational agency participating in the school lunch program under this Act may donate any food not consumed under such program to eligible local food banks or charitable organizations.

    2. GUIDANCE.—

      1. IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Secretary shall develop and publish guidance to schools and local educational agencies participating in the school lunch program under this Act to assist such schools and local educational agencies in donating food under this subsection.

      2. UPDATES.—The Secretary shall update such guidance as necessary.

    3. LIABILITY.—Any school or local educational agency making donations pursuant to this subsection shall be exempt from civil and criminal liability to the extent provided under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (42 U.S.C. 1791).

    4. DEFINITION.—In this subsection, the term ‘‘eligible local food banks or charitable organizations’’ means any food bank or charitable organization which is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)).

Therefore, despite the amendment to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, operators of the federal SNPs may not donate leftover food and beverage items directly to end recipients. Donations may only be distributed to food banks or charitable organizations as explained in the NSLA and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy memo SP 11-2012 External link opens in new window or tab..

For more information regarding leftover food donation in the SNPs, please see the CDE’s Guidance on Donation of Leftover Food in the CNPs management bulletin.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding donation of leftover foods in the SNPs, please reach out to SNPInfo@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 11, 2023
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