A Lift With Leftovers

For the meetings industry, charity begins on site

Americas Second Harvest at work

Putting a meeting to rest has its own rewards, but planners can feel even better by donating leftover food and promotional items to charities. Here’s how to share the meeting wealth and maybe even land a tax break.
    The Professional Convention Management Association (www.pcma.org/source/community) encourages members and nonmembers alike to donate food and products through its Network for the Needy program. Planners are advised to work with America’s Second Harvest and the Canadian Association of Food Banks to give leftover foodstuffs to those in need.
    PCMA also began a partnership last September with Gifts In Kind International to distribute products, samples and giveaways from trade shows to those who will make good use of the bags, flashlights, pens and other items no one wants to carry back home on the plane. 
    Offering a similar service is start-up business Special E (www.aspeciale.com). For a small fee (minimum $150), the company will redistribute leftover food, flowers, party supplies, promotional products, misprinted items, hotel room amenities and even formal gowns from events all around the United States. The organizations Special E delivers to include the American Red Cross, ASPCA, City Harvest, Disabled American Veterans, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Ronald McDonald House and many more.
    The idea of giving away leftover food might raise liability flags for many planners, but not to worry: Most states limit the meeting host’s responsibilities once the food reaches the food bank.