We girls at All the Trim love to blog about all of our favorite & fun ideas for event planning, but every now and then, there are issues that move our hearts.  One is the inordinate waste of food after an event is over.  We have been to too many events where the catering or venue staff is literally spreading out an arm and sweeping loads of perfectly edible food into huge trash cans after the event has ended.  Whhhyyyyy!!  Well, many caterers, and especially many venues, believe they are liable for anyone that eats the food after the event and becomes ill.  So, for fear of being sued, they simply throw it all out.

The New England chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE) has begun an industry awareness push to change this practice.  They want not only event industry professionals, but clients as well, to know that there is an Act that already protects these caterers and venues from liability.  It is called the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.  Congress passed this Act in 1996 during President Clinton’s administration, and it protects donors (hosts, venues, caterers, etc.) and collectors of any donated food from any and all liability.  Based on this Act, there is no reason we should not be giving this post-event food to local shelters, churches or any other organizations that feed our impoverished neighbors.  Dana Siles, Community Service Chair at the New England NACE chapter, along with the consult of Boston Rescue Mission’s Eric Grenfell-Muir, has initiated a “Feeding Our Neighbors” campaign in order to push this awareness throughout the industry.  If you are a local caterer or venue, we urge you to work with Charlotte’s NACE chapter to further the idea of this initiative and create a more aware and thoughtful local community.

Charlotte attempts to pride itself in sustainable and eco-friendly values and programs, however we have a long way to go.  Too many people in our community have fallen upon hard times and are starving.  This is uncalled for, and we in the industry must be responsible in our business practices.  Feeding America is a network of food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, faith-based organizations, non-profits & shelters.  According to Feeding America’s report Hunger in America 2010, of the 37 million people that are served annually by Feeding America organizations, 14 million of these are children.  One in eight Americans rely on Feeding America for food assistance.  Thirty six percent of these served households have at least one person working.  In 2010, Charlotte alone experienced a 36% increase in homeless families.  And with federal and state cuts in food assistance programs, the need is becoming more imperative.

Don’t let event food go to waste!  We implore our industry professionals to help each other become more aware of our choices.  And we urge our clients to choose caterers and venues that allow positive utilization of the food after their event.  Let’s emulate what the New England NACE chapter is doing and pursue our local food banks, shelters & food-assistance organizations in working with them to build a better food network to help our neighbors.  These people are people we know…a family member who lost their home to foreclosure, your divorced best friend who lost their job and supports their kids all alone, your co-worker who was let go due to downsizing at work…these people need our help now more than ever.

And why not think on an even broader level?  Where can items of your décor, flowers perhaps, be donated?  Senior homes or hospitals, maybe?  Creativity is an event professional’s second nature; let’s have fun using this creativity in striving to make sustainability our second nature, as well.  With the Democratic National Convention coming to our town in 2012, it would be great for Charlotte to be a role model in sustainable practices, right down to what we do with our post-event items.

We would love to hear your good stories & bad stories involving post-event food…Did you see food go to waste?  Did you find out the host of the event, caterer or venue donated the food after the event?  To what organizations?  Share, share, share!!!

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