Some businesses are now required by law to prevent food waste by donating surplus edible food to non-profits, instead of discarding it.

California State law SB1383 will protect the environment and support community members in need by achieving the following statewide targets: 

  • Reducing disposal of organic waste by 50% by 2020, and by 75% by 2025
  • Recovering at least 20% of disposed edible food for human consumption by 2025

Currently, Californians send 11.2 billion pounds of food to landfills each year, while millions don’t have enough to eat. In San Francisco, one in four people do not know where their next meal is coming from. SB1383 implementation aims at feeding community members and protecting our environment. Reducing food and organic waste reduces the production of greenhouse gases in landfills (especially methane), which are strong contributors to climate change.

This law applies to food generators and food donation programs. Please read the details of how the law impacts your business below. For questions and more information about the regulation and edible food recovery, please contact ENV-EdibleFoodRecovery@sfgov.org"
 

Edible food generators are defined as Tier 1 and Tier 2. Check the definitions below to determine if your business or organization is subject to SB1383 regulations:

Tier 1 food generators (effective since January 1, 2022):

  • Supermarket (with revenue ≥ $2 million)
  • Grocery store (≥ 10,000+ sq. ft) 
  • Contracted Food Service Provider (for universities, employee cafeterias, airlines, etc)  
  • Food distributor 
  • Wholesale food vendor 

Tier 2 food generators (effective since January 1, 2024):

  • Restaurant (≥ 250 seats or 5,000 sq. ft.) 
  • Hotel (with onsite food facility and  ≥ 200 rooms)
  • Health facility (with onsite food facility & ≥ 100 beds) 
  • Large events and venues 
  • State agency with cafeteria (≥ 250 seats or 5,000 sq. ft.) 
  • Public and private schools with on-site food facility 

How to comply

As of 2024, both Tier 1 and Tier 2 edible food generators are now required to:

Prevent food waste

  • Determine how to avoid generating food surplus, including through improved tracking and measurement, demand forecasting, inventory management, menu/offer optimization, process optimization, and staff training and coaching.
  • Sell your surplus food at a discount or donate it to clients or staff.
  • Subscribe to a food waste prevention tool

Recover surplus food

Connect and contract with food recovery organizations and services

  • Partner with food programs such as soup kitchens, food pantries, food banks or other organizations or companies that rescue food to feed people.
  • Create a written agreement with each food program that picks up or receives donated food from your business or institution. See the Model Food Recovery Agreement as an example template. 
  • Follow food donation best practices to ensure food safety
  • Keep records on-site (digital or paper copy) of written agreements with food programs for review and compliance inspection and monitoring by applicable City agencies

Track and report

  • Maintain records of the following:
    • Types of food donated
    • Frequency or schedules of food donations
    • Quantities donated in pounds per month. See the Food Donation Tracking Template as an example 
  • Keep records on-site of written agreements with food programs at your business location for review and compliance inspection and monitoring by applicable City agencies.
  • Track donations with the Donation Tracking Template
  • Report food recovery data to the City and County of San Francisco annually - More info coming soon!

Liability protection

Food generators that donate food are protected by the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and California AB 1219, as long as the food was donated in good faith and followed safe handling procedures.

This section covers food assistance programs that receive food donations from Tier 1 or 2 businesses or institutions (supermarkets, restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc.) and food recovery services that transport food donations to food assistance programs (soup kitchens, food pantries, etc.).

As of January 1, 2024, SB 1383 requires certain food generators to donate the maximum amount of surplus food to local food recovery programs or services that feed or distribute food to community members. They must establish written agreements with food programs and track the amount, frequency and types of food donated monthly. 

Your organization may experience an increase in food donation requests from food generating businesses or institutions subject to SB 1383. Food donation programs are encouraged, but not required, to increase the amount of food they receive from these generators. It is at the discretion of each organization to decide if you accept or decline requests for surplus food donations from generators as well as requests to enter into a written agreement. 
 

How to comply
 

Connect and contract with food donors

  • If your organization agrees to accept donations from businesses subject to SB 1383 or is already doing so, you must establish a written agreement with each business or institution. See the Model Food Recovery Agreement as an example template. 
  • You are encouraged to provide input on the conditions of your written agreements with businesses, such as types of food you do and don’t accept, to ensure they align with the needs of your organization. 

Track and report

  • Track donations and maintain written documentation including:
    • Name, address, and contact information for each business or institution donating food to your organization.
    • Types of food received or collected each month from each donor
    • Quantity in pounds (lbs.) per month of the food collected or received from each donor 
    • Total pounds of food your organization recovers each calendar year
  • Document actions taken to increase food recovery capacity (ie – purchasing new trucks, hiring new staff, purchasing additional refrigeration storage)
  • Report food recovery data to the City and County of San Francisco annually – More info coming soon!

Why recover food?

Reduce food waste: Californians send 11.2 billion pounds of food to landfills each year, in many cases, the food is still fresh enough to have been recovered to feed people in need. 

Feed people: While billions of meals go to waste, millions of Californians don’t have enough to eat. In San Francisco, one in four people do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Save costs and earn tax benefits: When you donate food, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. You may also find that your Recology bill or food purchasing costs decrease, if you reduce your surplus food generation. 

Protect the environment: Food waste in landfills is a powerful contributor to climate change due to the greenhouse gases it releases. 

San Francisco's Department of the Environment received $236,000 in grant funding from CalRecycle to fund food recovery efforts throughout the City. The grant funding was distributed to food recovery organizations and services throughout the city, resulting in hundreds of thousands of pounds of recovered edible food. 

Grant recipients organizing food donation items in a commercial-sized pantry

Staff of food recovery organization organizing recovered food for distribution.


For questions, additional information, and resources please contact the SF Environment Food Recovery Team Env-EdibleFoodRecovery@sfgov.org