Non-profits support bill that would require, recommend restaurants donate leftovers to those in need

HONOLULU, Hawaii —  A proposed plan could either require or recommend restaurants donate leftovers to families who struggle to get food on the table.

“Just think of all the people we could be feeding so that they can use their money to pay rent and not have to buy food.” said Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Kobayashi first introduced Bill 9, that is deferred, but many non-profits that feed families in need support her idea.

“Certain groups like Aloha Harvest, Feeding Hawaii Together, they help those who really need food. They do it free of charge.” said Kobayashi.

Gregg Fraser, the executive director of Hawaii Restaurant Association, said although they support the idea of donating to those in need, making it a requirement may cause restaurants problems as well as stir some food safety concerns.

“They have to store that food before it gets picked up. Not everybody has space to keep leftovers refrigerated and wrapped and stored until it gets picked up for repurposing.” said Fraser.

Restaurant owners said although they understand the premise of the bill, it would be difficult if required.

“As a restaurant, we really don’t throw away a lot of food. It wouldn’t be good business. We try to utilize it as much as we can and reduce that cost,” said Jennifer Naito, kitchen manager at Big City Diner.

Fraser said funding the organizations could also be another issue.

“Organizations like Food Bank and Aloha Harvest are struggling to get the funding to do what they’re doing now, so if you’re talking about times two, times four, times 10 — which could potentially be if it’s mandated, who is going to fund those organizations?” said Fraser.

He suggested restaurants donate on a voluntary basis, rather than a requirement.