A great tragedy of food and hungerToday, my wife and I went to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center "Gathering of Heros" event at Minute Maid Park for gold-level 2005 blood donors. It was a pleasant enough event, and we were having quite an enjoyable time until I asked about the vast expanses of food that were going uneaten. I don't know if they overestimated the attendance or just over-ordered on food, but towards the end of the event there were still dozens of tables covered with enough chicken strips, empanadas, cheeses, deserts, and other assorted foods to feed hundreds of people. A rather official-looking woman (I didn't get her name), said they would love to give the food to charity, but legal liabilities prevent them from doing so. If anybody got ill from the food, they could sue the Blood Center for untold amounts. They were simply throwing it all away. That staggering waste really depressed me, made all the more acute as we walked by the Star of Hope mission next door to the stadium on the way out to our car.
A clear demand, a clear supply, and a clear desire - all thwarted by our legal system. And this is not an isolated situation. I've been to dozens of banquet events where I noticed plenty of food left over at the end, and I always assumed it would somehow go to those in need. I've made the same assumptions about leftover foods from buffet-style restaurants like Luby's. I guess I was pretty far off-base. I'm betting there are literally tons of perfectly edible food going to waste every day in this city.
It seems there has to be a win-win solution option here, although I don't know what it is off the top of my head. Maybe a state indemnity law for charitable giving? Maybe it needs to go through an intermediate organization with indemnity, like a federal agency? (I seem to remember something from school that the federal government can't be sued without its permission) Local food banks, homeless shelters, churches, and similar charities should be all over this with their political representatives.
Additional solution suggestions are welcome in the comments.