Sounds like lack of upward communication. What you have is some executive being told to deal with a problem (in this case, getting rid of a bunch of food) creating a plan, putting it down to the people who will execute it, and when a variable changes or a new variable appears (people wanting the food) that information isn't communicated back up the chain, and the people who were executing the plan don't/won't make on-the-ground changes in fear of upsetting the executive or some other such motivators/demotivators.
People want to paint big-wigs as these evil figures but do you really think some executive saw all the people waiting for food and deliberately prevented them from having it? Probably not. The person in charge probably found out about this problem the same way we did and now they'll have to cover their asses.
I see this kind of shit all the time in the Army and leaders need to learn how to deal with it, because it's still their problem when things of this nature happen, they just aren't necessarily cognizant of the bad things that they cause.
Another possibility - fear of lawsuit. Poor people can bring a suit against the owner if eating the food cause disease.
What a strange country America is. I don't know what would happen in other countries. Maybe the food would be sold to other outlets to on-sell? Given to charity? Who knows, but your country just confuses me a lot.
'The American Dream' is a term still bandied about by many of your politicians, yet I think we all know by now it's bullshit. This is one of the reasons that so many people fear the mighty 'Murica more so than a North Korea or Iran. Scenes like this. I'm not here to take a side, I'm just saying, we shouldn't be seeing scenes like this in a country held up to the world as the epitome of freedom and democracy and all things warm, cute and cuddly.
If anything, America shouldn't be held up as model for anything really. Maybe 'what not to do'. Look to New Zealand or Norway. Or Australia even? Shit, Canada? I'm rambling now. Weird country. Anyway. Enjoy.