Charity welcomes food cost breaks, Good Samaritan bill
A decision by supermarket chains to offer one year of discounts in a bid to ease food costs was hailed as “wonderful” by Eliza DoLittle head Margaret Ward.
Applauding the move by MarketPlace, Supermart and Lindo's to offer ten percent discounted shopping on Wednesdays, starting December 1, Ms Ward said she hoped Government would offer them breaks in return.
And for Ms Ward, the Throne Speech's signal that a “Good Samaritan Act” would provide legal protection for those who donate food to people in need came as especially poignant news.
The Eliza DoLittle Society, a key organisation in collecting and distributing food for the needy, has lobbied for two years to see the legislation passed.
“It's very much like the laws for someone who stops for an accident — if they go and help in good faith, they can't be sued,” she said.
While such laws don't give helpers immunity from blatant negligence, Ms Ward said it gave protection to companies acting in good faith.
“MarketPlace has told us it's illegal to donate out of date food,” she said. “Of course, certain foods you can't — seafood, for example. But some are safe.
“So this law is a real effort to make sure that there is protection for a company who provides food, from being sued.”
Bermuda CableVision general manager Terry Roberson has helped promote the idea to Government, she said.
“It's been a long push, but it's worth it. This is awesome news.”
The legislation, put in place in Ontario, was recently mirrored by the Bahamas.
“The Bahamas got theirs passed in 18 months,” Ms Ward explained. “We used their draft and had a law student rewrite it for Bermuda.”
The protection will mean more donations at a time when the organisation struggles to meet the community's needs.
“Our policy is ‘if in doubt, throw it out',” Ms Ward said. “If we have something we're not sure of, we dispose of it. But some people go a bit too far. This law is something that should encourage a lot more places to help.”
Mr Roberson said his company's collaboration with Eliza DoLittle in this year's food drive had highlighted “the challenges of getting some suppliers to donate food under the current legislation”.
He added: “So we approached MPs and encouraged them to look at it.
“We were happy to hear in today's Throne Speech that the Good Samaritan Act will be brought into law over the next year. This shows a kind government who understands the needs of our people.”