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New Research Highlights How Brazil Can Address Food Waste, Hunger, and Climate Change


February 20, 2024


February 20, 2024 (Brazil) —The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) released a new analysis of food donation laws and policies in Brazil, as well as recommendations for how legislators can help reduce food waste, feed people experiencing food insecurity, and mitigate climate change. The analysis and recommendations are part of The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, which analyzes laws and policies affecting food donation around the world.

Roughly 61.3 million Brazilians, or more than one quarter of the population, are food insecure yet 42% of its food supply is lost or wasted annually. Much of the wastage is food that is nutritious and safe for consumption and could be directed to people facing hunger, including through organizations like Sesc Mesa Brasil, a network of 95 food banks across the country. Instead, much of this wholesome food ends up in landfills, where it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Food loss and waste is responsible for as much as 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

With its commitment to reducing poverty, protecting the Amazon rainforest and ensuring a habitable climate for future generations, Brazil can take important steps to reduce emissions from food loss and waste and feed more people facing food insecurity. The new research identifies policy opportunities, including:

  • Implement a standard, dual-date labeling system that clearly distinguishes between safety-based and quality-based dates and allows for donation after the quality-based date to ensure that date labels do not result in the disposal of food that is otherwise safe for consumption.
  • Promote awareness of liability protections for food donors provided in the Food Waste and Donation Law and disseminate the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency’s (ANVISA) Guidance on Best Practices for Ensuring Food Safety for Donated Food to mitigate liability concerns of potential donors.
  • Increase the tax deduction available for food donations and activities associated with the storage, transportation, and delivery of donated food to ensure that food donors and food recovery associations receive tax incentives and sufficient information to participate in food donation.
  • Adopt local or national policies that would require the donation of surplus food or impose monetary penalties for wholesome food that is sent to landfills that could instead be diverted to those who need it.
  • Develop government grant opportunities for food donation infrastructure to ensure that food donors and food recovery organizations can more effectively and safely recover, handle, transport, and distribute surplus food.

“Better food donation policies are low-hanging fruit when it comes to addressing climate change and hunger. These recommendations, developed in partnership with Sesc Mesa Brasil and in consultation with other Brazilian experts, can be implemented now – many at a low cost – to limit the environmental damage of food waste and help Brazilians access healthy, safe, surplus food,” said Emily Broad Leib, Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Faculty Director of FLPC.

“With its large population and extraordinary biodiversity, Brazil is a critical country when it comes to food, natural resources and climate. The policies that we are recommending can give a boost to Brazil by reducing waste and addressing hunger—which is good for people and the planet,” said Lisa Moon, president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network. “Food insecurity and food loss and waste are the result of flawed food systems, but we have identified actions that can close gaps and overcome existing barriers. We look forward to working with our partners in the Sesc Mesa Brasil network to advance these policies that will benefit people in Brazil.”

“Connecting the work of combating hunger with that of reducing loss in the different stages of the food chain is crucial. Sesc Mesa Brasil has been operating under this premise for 30 years. Contributing with our experience to the research conducted by the Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and our partners at The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) brings us immense pleasure, since this represents an important step in raising awareness about food waste and its consequences for society. The results obtained will create mechanisms which will be of enormous value to food banks, donor partners and, in an expanded way, to society as a whole,” explains José Roberto Tadros, President of the CNC-Sesc-Senac System, of which Sesc Mesa Brasil is a part.

Sesc is a national leader in the fight against hunger and food loss and waste, and as such, partnered with the Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Global Foodbanking Network to identify important actors in Brazil for developing these policy recommendations. Sesc is a member of federal representatives responsible for developing public policy and implementing initiatives to combat food insecurity in Brazil. Sesc Mesa Brasil is the largest private food bank network in Latin America and in 2023 it distributed nearly 47 million kilograms of food as well as cleaning and hygiene products.

The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, supported by Walmart Foundation, identifies existing laws and policies that support or hinder food recovery and donation and offers policy recommendations for strengthening frameworks and adopting new measures to fill existing gaps. The analyses featured in country-specific reports are also encapsulated in an interactive Atlas tool that allows users to compare policies between countries participating in the project.

The Atlas project research is available for 24 countries on five continents plus the European Union. An interactive map, Legal Guides, Policy Recommendations, and Executive Summaries for each country are available at


ABOUT THE HARVARD FOOD LAW AND POLICY CLINIC: 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 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. FLPC’s work focuses on increasing access to nutritious foods, addressing the climate-related impacts of food and agricultural systems, reducing waste of healthy, wholesome food, and promoting food system justice.

ABOUT THE GLOBAL FOODBANKING NETWORK: The Global FoodBanking Network supports community-led solutions to alleviate hunger in over 50 countries. While millions struggle to access enough safe and nutritious food, nearly a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. We’re changing that. We believe food banks directed by local leaders are key to achieving Zero Hunger and building resilient food systems. For more information, visit

ABOUT SESC: Providing quality of life and well-being for workers in the Commerce, Goods, Services and Tourism sectors, their families, and society as a whole. This is the mission of Serviço Social do Comércio (Sesc) [Commerce Social Service], an institution that makes up the Commerce System, along with the Confederação Nacional do Comércio de Bens, Serviços e Turismo (CNC) [National Confederation of Commerce in Goods, Services and Tourism] and the Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Comercial (Senac) [National Commercial Learning Service]. For more than seven decades, it has been acting and providing services in the areas of Education, Health, Culture, Leisure and Public Assistance, including the Sesc Mesa Brasil program, the largest private network of food banks in Latin America.