Emergency Food Providers: End Food Waste With MEANS Database

The MEANS Database, founded by ELCA member and American University student Maria Rose Belding, a speaker at the 2018 National Youth Gathering, is a non-profit communications platform for emergency food providers and their donors. Emergency food providers can mean soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries. MEANS, which stands for Meeting Excess And Needs for Sustainability, works with these emergency food providers by sending them free emails and texts when a grocery store, restaurant, caterer or other food donor has what they need nearby.

In the United States, 133 billion pounds of food are thrown out annually. Donating it to nearby nonprofits saves food donors money with tax deductions while feeding those in need in their communities. Donating food via MEANS is always 100% free. The MEANS Database was developed to make it easier and cheaper to donate unsold food than to throw it away. If you donate unsold food you are eligible for a larger tax deduction than if you throw it out. At the end of the tax year, MEANS helps you download all the information you need to claim your enhanced tax deduction.

On average, donations are claimed within an hour, meaning you can find a home for your donation before your staff is finished closing for the night. The MEANS Database reports they have had prepared food claimed in under three minutes! MEANS has users in 48 states and the District of Columbia, so you can donate anywhere! The MEANS Database works with over 3,000 partners throughout the United States. These users are food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and houses of worship. The MEANS Database verifies their eligibility to receive tax-deductible donations so donors don’t have to. Donations of “apparently wholesome food” donated in “good faith” to a “nonprofit organization” are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

To learn more about the MEANS Database click here.

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