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What started as a grassroots movement by shoppers has now become an enforced law in the country of France, as supermarkets are now required to give their unsold food to the needy. The law, which passed through France’s National Assembly in December, went into full effect last week and comes with a stiff penalty of up to 75,000 euros or 2 years in prison if not followed.

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The law applies to all supermarkets over 4,304 square feet in size. Supermarkets larger than this are required to have established contracts with registered nonprofits or food banks.

The implementation and enforcement of this law is a wonderful step for a number of reasons:

  • It exemplifies the power that we, as consumers, have to create change in our community.
  • It directly combats France’s homelessness and malnutrition issues by further stocking the community resources that provide for the less fortunate.
  • It further diversifies what is made available to food banks.
  • It sets a blueprint for other countries around the world to follow and implement.

Currently, approximately 7.8 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in France. It should be exciting to see how substantially this number drops over the years, hopefully further enticing other countries to step up to the plate and match the change. That number increases to 1.4 billion tonnes of food when examining food waste globally, clearly demonstrating that this issue stretches way beyond French borders.

The only potential challenges posed by this new law have to do with volunteering and food storage, since more space and assistance will certainly be required to help manage the influx in donations. Hopefully the same community members that helped to start this movement at the grassroots level will continue their great work by helping to keep it in place effectively.


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