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Harvard Research Identifies Policy Recommendations to Support Food Donation Across Five Continents

A volunteer at Bancos de Alimentos de México (BAMX) Zapotlanejo, organizes fresh produce in the warehouse.

April 8, 2021


Amid pandemic and rising rates of food insecurity, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and The Global FoodBanking Network address global food waste and hunger crisis.

In response to food waste, climate change, and a global hunger crisis that is further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemicThe Global Food Donation Policy Atlas makes recommendations to address critical gaps identified while mapping existing food donation laws and policies across the world. As more countries join the fight to address these global challenges, research from The Atlas project, which is produced by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and The Global FoodBanking Network, is now available for 14 countries: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Atlas project, supported by the Walmart Foundation, examines six major legal issues that impact food recovery: food safety for donations, date labeling, liability protection for food donations, tax incentives and barriers, government grants and funding, and food waste penalties or donation requirements. The Atlas project compares the legal frameworks impacting these issue areas across participating countries and provides policy recommendations for countries to overcome common barriers to food donation. The results have sparked dialogue among country leaders who are now drawing on best practices from other countries to inform their own food recovery policy development.

“Hunger is a long-standing and completely solvable problem made worse by the pandemic. We produce more food globally than we need to feed all those suffering from hunger. There is no time better than now to implement policies and laws that eliminate senseless barriers to food donation and align incentives to encourage this beneficial practice,” said Emily Broad Leib, clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and director of FLPC. “We have heard from policymakers around the world who are using the Atlas analyses and recommendations to inform efforts in their home countries. We hope that our research empowers our food bank partners and their community allies and encourages more governments to systematically work toward closing the gap between surplus food and rates of food insecurity.”

“The Global FoodBanking Network is honored to be a partner in this important research identifying policy solutions to stem food loss and waste and promote food recovery for hunger relief,” said Lisa Moon, president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network. “Food banks are a community-based solution to effectively redirect safe, wholesome surplus food to people in need. With more than 1 billion tons of food wasted each year, the Atlas offers stakeholders a policy roadmap for greater food security and sustainability.”

One-third of food produced across the globe is lost or wasted, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, while global hunger persists at crisis levels exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Atlas project addresses this asymmetry while contributing important knowledge to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which includes zero hunger, good health and well-being, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

“Walmart Foundation has a long-standing commitment to increasing access to healthier foods in communities around the world and we are pleased to support the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, because of its potential to accelerate effective and sustainable solutions,” said Eileen Hyde, Director of Sustainable Food Systems and Food Access for “This project provides not only groundbreaking research to address the complexity of public policy relating to food donations, but it also presents clear opportunities to improve how surplus food gets to communities that need it.”

An interactive map, Legal Guides, Policy Recommendations, and Executive Summaries for 14 countries are available at

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) serves partner organizations and communities by providing guidance on cutting-edge food system issues, while engaging law students in the practice of food law and policy. FLPC’s work focuses on increasing access to healthy foods, supporting sustainable production and regional food systems, promoting community-led food system change, and reducing waste of healthy, wholesome food. FLPC is committed to advancing a cross-sector, multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to its work, building partnerships with academic institutions, government agencies, private sector actors, and civil society with expertise in public health, the environment, and the economy. For more information, visit

The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) is an international nonprofit organization that nourishes the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks in more than 40 countries. GFN focuses on combating hunger and preventing food waste by providing expertise, directing resources, sharing knowledge, and developing connections that increase efficiency, ensure food safety, and reach more people facing hunger. In 2019, GFN member food banks recovered over 900 million kilograms of food and grocery product and redirected it to feed 16.9 million people through a network of more than 56,000 social service and community-based organizations. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, member food banks have served more than 27 million people facing hunger. For more information, please visit

By using our strengths to help others, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation create opportunities for people to live better every day. Walmart has stores in 28 countries, employing more than 2.3 million associates and doing business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are helping people live better by accelerating upward job mobility for the retail workforce; addressing hunger and making healthier, more sustainably-grown food a reality; and building strong communities where we operate. We are not only working to tackle key social issues, but we are also collaborating with others to inspire solutions for long-lasting systemic change. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit