Food bank donations in the United States: A landscape review of federal policies

Katelin M. Hudak, Emily Friedman, Joelle Johnson, Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rates of food insecurity have increased substantially in the United States (US), and more families are turning to the charitable food system to help meet their needs. Prior studies have examined the nutritional quality of foods offered through food banks, but little is known about what government policies may shape the healthy food donation landscape. The purpose of this study was to review US federal policies that impact food and beverage donations to food banks and assess whether policies encourage healthy food donations. In spring 2020, two researchers independently reviewed federal food and beverage donation policies using predefined search terms in two legal databases. We identified six categories of policies based on the existing food donation literature and themes that emerged in the policy review. We identified 42 federal policies spanning six categories that addressed food and beverage donations to food banks. The largest category was “government programs,” with 19 (45%) policies. The next largest category was “donation via schools,” with 12 (29%) policies. However, no policies specifically addressed the nutritional quality of food donations. There is an opportunity for the federal government to strengthen food bank donation policies and improve the nutritional quality of donated foods and beverages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3764
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Emergency food
  • Food insecurity
  • Food security
  • Healthy
  • Legislation
  • Nutrition
  • Regulations
  • Statutes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Food bank donations in the United States: A landscape review of federal policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this