Look in the trash cans behind just about any restaurant, hotel, or fast food store and what will you see?

Besides the obvious refuse that's good for little or nothing, you'll often see substantial amounts of perfectly good food that could be used to help feed the poor and the homeless if it hadn't been discarded.But it must be discarded as long as the law requires merchants to throw away all cooked food that is left over at the end of the day.

It's a law that Rep. Larry V. Lunt of Salt Lake City is trying to change with House Bill 275, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Utah Senate.

Though HB 275 would relax the health department standards that keep left-over cooked food from being donated to soup kitchens, donors and charities would still have to be careful since they would remain liable for any death or injury resulting from gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.

The point is that this bill would encourage businesses to donate to food drives. The more such drives accomplish, the less burden there should be on the government to support the needy.

Surely it's better to send such food to soup kitchens than to let the homeless keep scavanging for it in garbage cans behind restaurants and hotels.

In any event, there's far too much waste in this state and nation. Rep. Lunt's bill looks like a sensible way to start reducing it.