The new law will come into force early next year and also means food can't be spoiled to prevent its donation, with waste food items being passed on to charitable groups, or if not suitable used for compost or even energy production.
The Guardian reports that the law was proposed by the councillor of a French town and that he was able to use an online petition, as well as changing attitudes to waste, to ensure the swift adoption of the law.
The law will come into effect after it has been rubber-stamped by the Sénat, the upper house of the French parliament, on 13 January.
Arash Derambarsh, a local councillor who has campaigned for the law, said it was “a historic victory”. “It’s extremely rare for a law to be passed so quickly and with unanimous support,” he told the Guardian.
The new legislation allows individuals to set up associations, with the approval of the agriculture ministry, to collect and distribute food. “It means that ordinary citizens can show their solidarity and help distribute this food to those who need it,” said Derambarsh.
The online petition was hosted on change.org and in his argument Arash Derambarsh said that each supermarket in France wasted around 20kg of food each day - more than 210,000 people signed the petition.