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Can Kenya’s Food Donation Policy Reduce Food Waste?

Originally written by Julia Agostino and published on FoodTank.

The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas issued a recent report that may help empower Kenyan leaders to meet 2030 food waste reduction goals. After analyzing Kenya’s current policy, the report recommends ways to increase food donations, reduce food waste, and fight hunger.

The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas is the joint effort between Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), and Platter of Compassion Food Banking Kenya. It is part of a broader project helping countries around the world recover surplus food and prevent food waste. The Kenya report includes a legal guidepolicy recommendations, and executive summary.

“The Atlas project can help countries to take stock of their current legal landscape, identify initial recommendations, and study best practices from other nations around the globe, in order to implement legislation that is best suited for their specific context,” Emily Broad Leib, Deputy Director of the FLPC, tells Food Tank.

Food donation can reroute edible food–that would otherwise emit greenhouse gasses in a landfill– to those experiencing hunger. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, 3.5 million Kenyans, roughly 37 percent of the population, face severe hunger. At the same time, the Policy Atlas reports that roughly 40 percent of food produced within Kenya goes to waste.

But Broad Leib sees some promising changes. “While progress is not happening as quickly as needed, Kenya’s food loss index has steadily decreased from 1,744 metric tons in 2017, to 1,531 in 2018, to 1,446 metric tons in 2019, indicating a steady improvement and national commitment to food loss mitigation,” reports Broad Leib.

The Policy Atlas’ research targets food safety regulations, date labeling, liability protection for food donations, tax incentives and barriers, food waste penalties, and government grants and incentives as areas of improvement.

According to the Policy Atlas, incentivizing food donation is particularly important. “Increasing food donation requires adequately aligning incentives for donors, especially in nations where donors consider existing tax incentives insufficient to offset associated costs of donation, or where lack of infrastructure limits food recovery efforts,” Broad Leib tells Food Tank. “When offered, incentives help food donors and food recovery organizations offset costs necessary for recovery, storing, processing, and transporting food for donation.”

While there is potential for strengthening certain policy areas, Broad Leib acknowledges Kenya’s current dual date labeling laws. While food may lose its freshness over time, it is still edible before expiration. Dual date labeling on packaged foods reduces confusion by defining dates for both safety and quality. This distinction helps divert considerable waste and reduces liability for donors.

“A major driver of food waste is inconsistent, unclear, or prohibitive date labels that cause confusion among all actors along the value chain and limit the ability of businesses to donate food. This increases the likelihood that safe, surplus food will go to waste,” Broad Leib tells Food Tank.

In addition to expanding income tax deductions to include in-kind food donations to food recovery organizations and advocating for food donations after the quality-based date, the Policy Atlas makes two other major legal recommendations. According to the Policy Atlas, Kenya could benefit from disseminating guidance on food safety requirements for donation and enacting legislation that establishes liability protection for food donors and food recovery organizations.

Broad Leib believes that the private sector can also play a significant role in decreasing food waste in Kenya. “Beyond increasing food donation and making food waste reduction commitments, the private sector can also be indispensable for consumer education campaigns,” Broad Leib explains to Food Tank. FLPC’s research shows that public-private initiatives can help raise awareness among consumers and donors around issues of food waste and food donation, especially as it pertains to date labeling and donor protection.

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