by Tom Isler | June 01, 2009

SD Food DriveJulie Nack Locke, a planner for HelmsBriscoe in Boston, never donated untouched, leftover banquet food to shelters or food banks because, in the event that recipients became ill, she didn't want her group, the hotel or the caterer to be held responsible.

But recently she discovered a federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that protects food donors and limits liability. Now, Locke, a former board member for the New England chapter of MPI, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which she says is unknown to most hotels and planners.

"Get your hotel to learn and understand the act," Locke urged planners at the New England Meetings Industry Conference & Exposition, held in Boston in April. "Keep the act in your event specifications guide and don't let anyone tell you they are liable. Dispute the misinformation."

Organizations like Feeding America ( help planners donate. "Every one of us can make a difference," Locke says. "It's amazing how much food goes to waste."