Interesting Times in LA

Last week, Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus penned this op-ed calling for more leftover sharing by restaurants, hotels and caterers. He even suggested making it mandatory for these food businesses to tell customers that they can donate the unserved food.

For the clients who choose to donate the food, the restaurant, hotel or caterer would then list the leftovers online in a so-called Craigslist for cuisine, that would match donors and recipients.

The piece prompted some objections, like this response from a local caterer.

What the saga really shows is that there’s no reliable, large-scale food recovery group in LA. That seems unfathomable, but perhaps the city’s sprawl and traffic are partly to blame. If such a city-wide group did exist, it would alleviate the need to legislate solutions.

There have been some positive steps from the City of Angels. The L.A. City Council just approved member Jose Huizar’s proposal that all city departments adopt policies facilitating donation of leftover food from public programs and events to organizations that feed the hungry.

“I’m looking at the City of Los Angeles to be an example to others,” Huizar said. “Donating surplus food should be as common as recycling. It should be part of our everyday lives.”

Old friend State Senator Jenny Oropeza, who had her reasonable bill on food recovery shot down by the restaurant industry in 2008, has a new, even more modest proposal in the senate. Her bill would make the state Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health put information on their sites about the (federal) Good Samaritan law. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask for.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted August 10, 2010 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    It’s cool! :)

  2. janes'_kid
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how best to share such tidbits as the link below.

    Unfortunately, about 40 percent of all food purchased by Americans gets tossed,

  3. Neil
    Posted August 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that if we (as a country) were really interested in decreasing food waste, then the cost of taking leftovers from restaurants and catering (as mentioned by the one objecting to the legislation) to people who can eat it would be (1) considered a cost of doing business, (2) an incentive to be more diligent about accurately planning how much food is needed and how it is prepared, and (3) moving the true cost of the waste from society as whole (who suffer the environmental cost) to the ones producing the waste.

    I do not think food waste will substantially decrease until it costs more to dispose of the waste than it does to donate it, compost it, or just not produce it.

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