BOSTON (SHNS) – More than 500 large food generators in Boston would be required to donate all edible food that they would otherwise throw away, under a proposed ordinance that two Boston City Council members plan to introduce.
Councilors Ricardo Arroyo of Hyde Park and Gabriela Coletta of East Boston say their plan, if adopted by the city, would make Boston the first municipality in the nation to have its own donation requirement for excess edible food.
The councilors announced their plan Monday, saying they envision a program that would resemble those already in place in France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, California and New York.
The proposed ordinance would codify a city Office of Food Justice, formerly known as the Office of Food Access, and a food recovery program that the councilors say would increase food security for city residents and reduce the “environmental harms” of disposing of excess food. Under the proposal, supermarkets, wholesale food vendors, large restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and colleges would establish agreements with nonprofits working in the “food justice space.”
Smaller vendors would also be required to donate excess food but would be given an extra year to adjust to the requirements of the ordinance. “Food insecurity has terrible debilitating effects on people and communities,” Arroyo said. “It is entirely preventable, and this program should play a major role in ensuring no one in Boston suffers from food insecurity while also reducing unnecessary waste and its harmful environmental impacts.”
Under the proposal, enforcement would begin in 2026 and generators found in violation of the ordinance would be punished first with a warning and education and then with a $200 fine for a second offense. Third and subsequent offenses would be met with a $300 fine for each day that the violation persists. In November 2022, state officials used their regulatory authority to tighten rules around food waste in Massachusetts, moving toward the goal of reducing 30 percent of all waste disposal statewide by 2030, while bolstering Massachusetts’ green economy.