Getting more donated food into the hands of 31 million hungry Americans is the aim of legislation introduced today by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.
The Indiana Republican proposed extending to farmers, small businesses and restaurant owners the same tax incentives available to large companies that donate food and grocery products to groups serving the poor.
Those groups include food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in all 50 states served by America’s Second Harvest network of nearly 200 food banks.
Lugar’s proposal would allow the deduction of the full market value of food donated.
“The demand on food banks is up, and this is a reasonable and efficient way to make certain there is a sufficient supply of food,” Lugar said in a written statement.
Deborah Leff, president and CEO of Chicago-based Second Harvest, agreed.
“Despite the generous donations of food from companies and farmers, we simply have not been able to keep up,” she said in a statement. “In fact, an estimated one million people that turned to us last year in their hour of need were turned away because the cupboards were bare.”
America’s Second Harvest is the largest domestic hunger-relief group. Its network of food banks supports roughly 50,000 local charitable organizations that operate more than 94,000 food programs that provide food assistance to 26 million hungry Americans, including eight million children and four million elderly people.