The Dumpster Divers’ Defense Fund

Meet Tony Moyer and Sam Troyer, brothers-in-law in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. They’ve been dumpster diving for 10 months, collecting thousands of dollars’ worth of good food and donating it to people in need. But in October, they were arrested for dumpster diving at a CVS and charged with loitering and prowling at night as well as criminal trespassing.

The dumpster they were arrested at did not have a “No Trespassing” sign posted, the gate was wide open and the dumpster wasn’t locked. They weren’t prowling, they weren’t loitering and they weren’t trespassing. Dumpster diving isn’t even illegal in Pennsylvania. Tony and Sam always leave the place cleaner than they found it when dumpster diving and neither of them have ever been in trouble with the law.

We want all charges against them dropped so they can go back to rescuing food and donating it to people in need! $165 billion worth of food is wasted each year in the USA. That’s enough to feed another entire American population, yet 50 million Americans are food insecure.

In January of 2015, I publicly offered to give assistance to anyone who is arrested for dumpster diving (You can read that article here). On October 5, 2016, nearly two years later, Tony Moyer and Sam Troyer were arrested. I received an email from Tony just an hour after he was arrested and he said it was the first thing he did when he got home. He had seen that article way back when he was first researching dumpster diving and made a mental note of it. I’ve started the Dumpster Divers’ Defense Fund to help Food Waste Warriors if they get arrested or ticketed for dumpster diving for food. The initial funds raised will cover Tony and Sam’s tickets, court fees, etc. I managed to get a pro bono lawyer so that cost is taken care of. Thanks Juliette Zaengle for your help! Our goal is to get all charges dropped, which would allow this money to be used for something so much better. The funds will be used to help start a food rescue program with grocery stores so that the food can be donated and not put in the dumpster in the first place. Of course that’s the whole idea of all of this, to end food waste and hunger. This fund will also help to bring media attention to the issue of food waste and hunger, help dumpster divers in the future who get in trouble like Sam and Tony did and help dumpster divers to start food rescue programs to keep food out of the dumpsters.

We’ve been able to bring a lot of attention to food waste and hunger through this so far. Check out some of the press coverage:
TreeHugger-Activist Establishes Dumpster Divers’ Defense Fund to Help ‘Food Waste Warriors’
Civil Eats – Food Waste Activist Emboldens Dumpster Divers 
NPR- Dumpster Divers — Who Do It For Charity — Face Trespassing Charges
Washington Post- ‘Nicest Guys Ever’ Arrested While Dumpster Diving to Feed the Homeless
Now This- These People Dumpster Dive and Donate Perfectly Good Food to Charity – and They Got Arrested for it Police in Pennsylvania Arrested Two Men. Their Crime? Dumpster Diving for Non-Expired Food to Feed the Hungry
ABC News 27 – Dumpster Divers Arrested While Trying to Feed the Hungry
Lancaster Online- Dumpster Diving Lands Lebanon Pair in Legal Trouble; Lancaster Attorney Helping
Lebanon Daily News- Lebanon Dumpster Divers Face Charges
WGAL- Men Who ‘Dumpster Dive’ to Help the Hungry Face Trespassing Charges

UPDATE 02/02/2017 All Charges Dropped!

We’ve got good news!

Thanks to incredible support from all of YOU, the charges against Tony and Sam have been dropped! The story spread nationwide through media outlets including NPR, The Washington Post and “Now This”, and this victory has set a precedent for anyone possibly arrested for dumpster diving for food in the future! Hundreds of thousands of people raised their voices, shared our story and contacted CVS and the court in Pennsylvania and there is no doubt that this was dropped because of public pressure. This was an example of the police preying on innocent people with only a small voice. All too often, they can take advantage of innocent people, knowing that they won’t be able to defend themselves. But together, our small voices made one huge voice that overpowered and prevailed. 

Now we can focus on the real crime at hand, stores throwing away huge quantities of perfectly good food every day while millions of Americans are hungry. Tony and Sam are now starting their own food rescue program and establishing relationships with stores to help them donate this food to local charities instead of dumping it in the first place. Grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, etc., that donate food to nonprofits are protected from liability by the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. A University of Arkansas School of Law study shows that not a single retailer has ever been sued after donating food to a nonprofit. Thousands of food rescue programs exist across the USA. The means are out there for stores that truly want to do the right thing and #DonateNotDump. (See Solutions to The Food Waste Fiasco to learn more about this.)

Thank you all so much for your support. This is a victory on all fronts and we could not have done it without the support of each and every one of you!

The good guys have won this time and now have a bigger voice than ever! Share the good news! 

For a deeper look into food waste, detailed information on the problem and solutions, how to get involved, food rescue programs, dumpster diving and more, go to Robin’s Food Waste Activism and Dumpster Diving Resource Guide.