Contact Lance Cayko
For Immediate Release 8/11/19
Geese and Human Waste; Be Careful Where You Step
by Bonnie Pyle
In early July, Denver made headlines for its plan to feed the homeless. This plan involved the slaughter of geese who make their homes around the ponds in city parks. Anyone who has visited a park with water has surely seen these geese as they are known to follow humans around begging for handouts much like a family dog.
Denver’s proposition sparked outrage around the state and beyond. The headlines soon began to change, suddenly the geese were being killed because of overpopulation. Canadian geese are protected by federal law. Special permits must be obtained to kill them, usually for population control. Approximately 5,000 geese make their homes in Denver year-round, 1,662 of those were rounded up, killed, processed and fed to needy families. The cost of this operation was $150,000.
At the same time, every year in America supermarkets throw away 43 billion pounds of food. US households throw out approximately 150,000 tons of food daily , this breaks down to about a pound of food per person per day. How does that compare to the amount of food each person benefiting from the goose slaughter received?
The amount of waste in America is staggering. It is especially disturbing since much of the food thrown out is perfectly good to consume. If goose slaughter and blatant waste aren’t offensive enough, consider the environmental impact of food waste. The land used to produce the food, the water for irrigation, or maintenance of animals raised for food, the pesticides used to grow fruits and vegetables, and finally, the landfill space used and methane gas produced by all that food once it is thrown out.
So why is Denver spending $150,000 to kill geese? Why isn’t more of the wasted food going to those who need it? The answer is simple. Government laws and regulations make the process of donating food very difficult. The fear of lawsuits is also a deterrent for those who might donate unwanted food.
There are protections in place for anyone who wants to donate food. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects food donors from lawsuits as long as they follow the proper procedures for food donations. The requirements that must be met in order for a potential donor to qualify for protection are quite strict, and all of the following must be met in order to avoid possible lawsuits:
1. The donor must donate to a nonprofit organization. • The food must meet all federal, state, and local quality and labeling requirements, even if it is not “readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.” If all quality and labeling requirements are not met, the food must be reconditioned to meet all quality and labeling requirements before it can be donated, which include:
- The donor informs the nonprofit of the nonconforming nature of the product;
- The nonprofit agrees to recondition the item so that it is compliant; and
- The nonprofit knows the standards for reconditioning the item.
2. The nonprofit organization that receives the donated food must distribute it to needy individuals. Direct donations from the donor to needy individuals are not protected by the Act.
3. The needy individuals receiving the food may not pay for it. However, if one nonprofit donates food to another nonprofit for distribution, the Act allows the first nonprofit to charge the distributing nonprofit a nominal fee to cover handling and processing costs.
That’s a tough process just to do what’s right. Not long-ago France made the news for banning supermarkets from throwing away food. Banning or any strict government control is never the right answer because ethics and morality simply cannot be legislated. Why not try granting the freedom to do the right thing? Instead of killing innocent geese, wouldn’t it be far more logical to streamline the food donation process, stop the massive food waste in this country, and use that to feed those who need it?
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Bonnie is a libertarian living in Teller County, Colorado. She’s passionate about fitness, animal rescue, and an avid outdoor adventurer.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lance Cayko at 303.775.7406 or email at CommunicationsDirector@LPColorado.org.