U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) today to announce the introduction of their bipartisan Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act. The bill would continue and expand a proven and effective tax incentive to encourage businesses and farms to donate surplus food to local food banks.
"Permanently extending the hunger relief tax incentive is a commonsense solution to increase food bank contributions -- in rural and urban areas alike -- and make use of the millions of pounds of food that go to waste each year," Sen. Moran said. "This legislation is especially critical during these difficult economic times when food banks have an increased need to provide emergency food assistance."
"Charity cannot meet the needs of the hungry alone," said Valerie Nicholson-Watson, President and CEO of Harvesters--The Community Food Network, the food bank serving northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri. "We need the continued partnership of nonprofit, business and government to help the hundreds of thousands of Kansans at risk of hunger. The hunger relief tax incentive has a proven track record as a targeted and effective way to encourage donations of excess nutritious food to those in need. We are grateful for Senator Moran's leadership to permanently extend this vital tax incentive."
During and since the recent economic recession, demand on food banks across the country has risen dramatically, with more than 50 million Americans living in food insecure households, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Despite this, as much as 40 percent of the food that is produced, grown and transported in the United States will never be used as some businesses find it too costly to donate the excess food, amounting to 70 billion pounds of wasted food each year.
The Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act would address this by permanently extending the same tax incentives to donate food, that are now available to corporations, to all businesses including small businesses, farmers, ranchers and restaurant owners. Congress recently extended this tax incentive through the end of 2013. After this most recent renewal, in the restaurant industry alone there was a 137 percent increase in the pounds of food donated. The Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act would make this provision permanent, and would extend the deduction to farmers who often have large amounts of fresh food to donate.
The bipartisan bill is supported by many organizations including Feeding America, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufactures Association and the National Restaurant Association.