by Joanna Berens and John D. Buschman, Ph.D. | August 01, 2018
The following plan aims to provide step-by-step instructions and suggestions on how to execute a food rescue, as promoted by the Food Rescue Committee of the Sustainable Events Network, Florida & Caribbean. The committee was formed in 2016 with the goal of inspiring event planners and associated vendors to safely donate leftover food to local charities in order to benefit the communities in which they meet.

Joanna Berens, president of Joanna Berens Hospitality, serves as food-rescue chair of the SENF&C. Dr. John D. Buschman teaches at Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and serves as an education chair of the organization.

 Note in the request for proposal your desire to stage a food rescue. Language to use, as suggested by, should indicate an intent to "donate all leftover food to the degree possible within safety and health regulations and the Good Samaritan laws" or "donate all table scraps to a local farm or compost, if a program is available or arranged for by Group."

 Negotiate a contract clause that reflects agreement on what to do if food is left over. Include the name of the receiving charity (see below).

 Identify and contact a local charity to determine a game plan in case there is food left over (generally shelters/soup kitchens for prepared foods, food pantries/food banks for packaged foods).

 Determine if the charity has an appropriate (e.g., refrigerated) truck or van and is able to pick up immediately after the event, or secure alternate refrigeration/transportation arrangements.

 Identify/appoint a food-rescue coordinator (FRC). This could be a staff member of the planner, client, facility or charity.

 Invite the FRC to all appropriate planning and preconvention meetings.

 Develop a collection and logistics plan with the FRC.

 Determine the type/form of potential leftover food: packaged, as in a food show; prepared, as in a banqueting event; or both, as in a food festival.

 Determine whether boxes or aluminum pans and lids will be needed. Estimate the quantity, and figure out who will supply containers.

 Print brightly colored stickers that say "Food Rescue" to be applied to boxes, pans, etc.

 Determine whether other equipment (e.g., Queen Mary banquet carts, pallets) is needed at the venue to collect food.

 Secure permission from the facility for the food-rescue team to circulate at the event (and inform personnel in security, catering and at the loading dock) and to stage a truck at the loading dock or service entrance if needed.

 Plan communications with the head chef, vendors, purveyors and/or other chefs, explaining the procedure for leftovers, where they will go and who they will benefit. Note the language on the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act (see link in sidebar at right).

 Ensure that any necessary instructions and permissions are included in the banquet event order.

 Assign the FRC to plan volunteer needs and develop a recruitment plan. Inquire whether the charity can provide volunteers. Plan for the volunteers' presence at the event, including parking, gathering point, dress requirements, necessary credentials, name tags, and meals or refreshments.

Note: A food-rescue plan is a contingency plan; there is always a chance that you will not have food left over to donate, so avoid disappointment by letting stakeholders know this in advance.