Food donation information for licensed food establishments

food digest

November 22, 2021

In this issue

Donating food to help those in need

In 2019, there were over 95,000 food insecure individuals in Hennepin County.1 That number has only increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you work in a licensed food establishment, you may have the ability to help reduce food insecurities by way of food donation.

Have you ever thought about donating food from your licensed food establishment? If so, what were the barriers that prevented you from donating food?

If you thought donating food was against the rules or if you were worried you’d be held liable if your donated food caused an illness, we're here to bust those myths.

The truth is that as long as the food you donate follows the requirements listed below, you are covered by the Bill Emerson Act which was put into law in 1991:

  • Donated in good faith,
  • Deemed to be wholesome, and
  • Donated to a non-profit organization feeding those in need

The Bill Emerson Act absolves you of liability provided the three requirements listed above are met.

As an added incentive, donating food to feed those in need may give you a tax break at tax time. Consult your tax professional to learn more..

For information on food donation best practices and how to donate food, refer to the Hennepin County food donation guidance posters offered in English and Spanish.



1 Feeding America. (2021). Hunger & Poverty in Hennepin County, Minnesota | Map the Meal Gap.

Web resources

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About us

Food digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin
County Public Health Department and is designed to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and operators. Articles focus on food
safety and requirements from the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County food ordinance.


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Hannah Marschinke


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