Boston could soon become a leader in the fight against food insecurity, according to two city councilors who have proposed a food recovery program.
An ordinance proposed by Boston City Council members Gabriella Coletta and Ricardo Arroyo would require food that would otherwise be thrown away by vendors to be donated to nonprofits.
“In my neighborhoods of East Boston and Charlestown, I have personally seen hundreds of people waiting for hours in the cold to get boxes and bags to feed their families for the week. ,” explained Coletta.
Arroyo, another co-author of the proposed ordinance, said he and Coretta have spent the past 18 months working on the plan.
“We believe that a significant percentage of the good quality edible food that is lost in the process could feed the starving population of our cities,” Arroyo said. It’s one of the biggest calls we get: people looking for access to food, people looking for access to programs that provide food.”
The proposal will be considered for the first time on the floor of the Boston City Council on Wednesday.
Under the ordinance, food vendors must donate leftovers to organizations that feed the hungry rather than sending them to landfills.
This plan will unfold in two phases:
Tier 1 will start in 2025 and includes large vendors such as grocery stores over 10,000 square feet. A restaurant with at least 250 seats or more than 5,000 square feet. Hotels with 100 or more beds. Schools, colleges, local and state institutions.
The second phase will start in 2026 and will involve small locations that generate excess food.
“I think a lot of people are wondering why we didn’t do this sooner,” says Coletta.
The Food Law Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School assisted in researching and devising the logistics of the plan.
“There’s certainly evidence to know that this could be successful,” said Professor Emily Broad Rabe, who led the study.
She told NBC10 Boston that much of the plan is based on statewide programs that exist in California, New York and Washington.
It also builds on a law enacted in Massachusetts in 2014 that limits the amount of food that can be donated to landfills.
“A lot of the food that’s wasted is still edible. You or I eat the food, but a lot of those labels are about quality, not safety,” Broad Rabe said. “This demonstrates the need for businesses to ensure that edible food is properly stored and delivered to those who need it.”
according to project breadAccording to the Massachusetts household food insecurity rate is nearly 17%. The Greater Boston Food Bank recently said: 1 in 3 adults in Massachusetts is food insecure.
Some restaurant employees said they would gladly step up to the plate on Monday night.
“We have so many breakfast items that we can’t get rid of and have to throw them away at the end of the night,” said Leo Battite, manager of Sugar Bakery in West Roxbury. If they can do something small, it goes a long way and I think it will help everyone in the city of Boston a lot, so I think they should do it.
A fine will be imposed to enforce the ordinance, but the amount has not yet been set, Arroyo said.