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With Food Bank Shortages And Record Hunger Rates, Gillibrand Takes Action To Increase Charitable Giving For Holiday Season

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

With more than 800,000 New York households that do not reliably know when their next meal will come, and with food banks across the country experiencing bleak shortages, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today took action to increase charitable donations this holiday season.

Senator Gillibrand is introducing legislation to double federal funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), make the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive permanent to encourage more businesses to fill food banks with unused food items, and extend tax credits that incentivize seniors to donate portions of their retirement savings to New York charities.

"The holiday season is a time for giving, but because of the bad economy, New York families that typically donate food, warm clothes and other basics to those in need just can't afford to this year," Senator Gillibrand said. "As a result, food bank shelves have gone bare, and hunger and food insecurity have reached disturbing, historic highs. We need to make sure we're helping New York children and families who were hit the hardest by this economy. So this holiday season, I have a plan to double federal funding for emergency food outlets like food pantries and soup kitchens, make tax credits permanent for businesses that donate to food banks, and extend tax credits for seniors who donate to New York charities."

Nationally, the 400 largest charities expect giving to decline by a median of 9 percent this year, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Charitable giving fell 2 percent to $308 billion last year -- the first decline since 1987, according to Giving USA, an annual report published by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. And corporate giving in 2009 is expected to drop as much as 5 percent, according to a survey of 76 companies, conducted by LBG Research.

As a result of rising food prices and rising poverty, over half of surveyed emergency food providers reported a shortfall of food resources in October, according to FeedingAmerica, a nonprofit national network of food banks. The Economic Recovery Act that Senator Gillibrand helped pass earlier this year helped stock some New York City food pantries and soup kitchens, but many are still forced to turn away the hungry because of shortages.

In addition to discouraging giving, the bad economy has taken a serious toll on the food security of American families. Food insecurity - when households are uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food for all members - spiked in 2007, rising from just over 10 percent of U.S. households to nearly 15 percent by the end of 2008.

Across New York, increasingly more families are going hungry and do not know when their next meal will come. In fact, approximately 800,000 New York households are now food insecure. Since 2006, the number of meals served by emergency food outlets across New York rose by nearly 60 million - an increase of 55 percent.

* In New York City, approximately 340,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 50 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 75 percent.
* In the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region, approximately 55,000 households are food insecure. Over 735,000 more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 30 percent.
* In Central New York, approximately 50,000 households are food insecure. Over 2 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of nearly 40 percent.
* In the Southern Tier, approximately 25,000 households are food insecure. Over 1.5 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 80 percent.
* Inthe Capital Region, approximately 50,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 1 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of nearly 25 percent.
* In the North Country, approximately 20,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 580,000 more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 30 percent.
* Inthe Hudson Valley, approximately 90,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 3 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 35 percent.
* On Long Island, approximately 100,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 2.3 million more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 - an average increase of over 25 percent.
* In Western New York, approximately 66,000 households are food insecure. Nearly 270,000 more meals have been served by emergency food outlets since 2006 in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties - an average increase of over 50 percent. Although, nearly 280,000 fewer emergency meals were served in Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara Counties - an average decrease of nearly 5 percent.

In an effort to increase charitable giving, and fill food pantries and soup kitchens this holiday season, Senator Gillibrand announced her plan to encourage more giving to families in need.

Double Federal Funding for TEFAP
Food banks are funded through three avenues: corporate donations of food from wholesalers, producers, and grocery stores that have a surplus; personal donations from the community; and government assistance including farm commodities and TEFAP from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring legislation that would double federal funding from $250 to $500 million for emergency food programs, including food pantries and soup kitchens next calendar year through the TEFAP program that provides these services to families in need.

Make the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Permanent
Nearly 100 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the U.S., according to the USDA, and more than 35 million Americans go hungry or risk going hungry each year. Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring legislation that would help close this gap and deliver unused food to families that need it by making the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive permanent for contributions to food inventory - offering businesses an effective incentive to donate food rather than dump it.

The legislation would provide all qualified business taxpayers, including farmers, restaurants and food manufacturers, increased charitable tax deductions for donations of fit and wholesome food to non-profit charitable organizations that serve the needy. The tax deduction is based on the fair market value of the food to help ensure the credit is not abused.

Extend Tax Credits for Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Charitable Rollovers
Senator Gillibrand is cosponsoring legislation that would extend tax credits for seniors when they make charitable donations from IRA and Roth IRAs to public charities, which are set to expire at the end of this year.

Seniors over 70 may donate up to $100,000 from their savings plans without having to count the distribution as taxable income. With a sharp drop in charitable donations over the last two years and even more projected this year, extending this tax credit will continue encouraging seniors to donate to New York charities - a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in desperate need.


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