Q: Can’t I be held liable if someone becomes ill from my donated food?

A: No!


Federal Law: Federal Good Samaritan Act

In 1996, President Clinton signed into law The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.  This act protects good faith food donors and recipient agencies from civil and criminal liability, excepting only gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct, should the product donated later cause harm to its recipient.


Who is protected?

The law protects food donors, including restaurateurs, caterers, and grocers, and nonprofit feeding programs who act in good faith.


What the Good Samaritan Act means to you?

Potential food donors most often cite fear of liability as the reason they refuse to donate to feeding programs.  With this federal law in place, donors have the uniform language that protects them from liability.


What kind of food is protected?

The Good Samaritan Act provides protection for prepared food and grocery products that meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be "readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions."


The full text of the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act can be viewed here.



The Care to Feed Foundation requires that safe food handling and storage protocol be strictly adhered to by all participants in its Food in Motion program.


Prepared food to be donated to CTF must be placed in food safe plastic bags or containers and immediately placed in a refrigerator (or freezer) at a temperature of 41˚F or below.


The bags and/or containers must be labeled with 1) donor name, 2) description of food,* 3) weight of food, 4) storage temperature, and 5) date prepared


*Food Description must indicate if the food contains any of the following major allergens:

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • tree nuts
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • soybeans

Care to Feed Foundation.

3217 10th Street N., Arlington, VA 22201

202.441.7078  |  info@caretofeed.org