Leahy: Expansion Of Charitable Deductions Of Food Included In Legislation Poised To Clear Congress By End Of This Week

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Dec. 17, 2015) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praises the inclusion of a provision aimed at fighting hunger by incentivizing donations of surplus food to local food shelves in a legislative package set to pass the U.S. Senate this week.  Leahy has long been the leading advocate for the bipartisan Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Extension Act, dating back to his time working with former Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

The soon-to-be enacted provision, which was the House companion of Leahy’s Senate legislation, expands and makes permanent incentives for farmers and businesses to donate excess food to nonprofit organizations like local food banks and pantries.  As much as 40 percent of food that is produced, grown and transported in the United States will never be used because some businesses find it too costly to donate the excess food.  This amounts to 70 billion pounds of wasted food each year.

Leahy said:  “In Vermont, far too many families struggle to make ends meet, and a major factor continues to be the rising cost of nutritious food.  Our food pantries play a crucial role in bridging the gap for families, and this commonsense step helps empower communities to help meet the need for healthy, affordable food.  No one in our country should go hungry, especially as we send billions of pounds of food to landfills.  This is a responsible solution that helps farmers, businesses and those in need.”

The CEO of the Vermont Foodbank, John Sayles, said, "The Vermont Foodbank is thrilled with Senator Leahy's leadership to secure a permanent enhanced tax deduction for food donations.  Everything we can do to support our food donors puts food on Vermont tables, keeping our kids ready for school, parents ready for work and our seniors free from worry."

The tax deduction expands upon a proven and effective tax incentive to encourage businesses and farms to donate surplus food to their local food banks.  It would also permanently extend the same tax incentives to donate food, now available to corporations, to small businesses, farmers, ranchers and restaurant owners – many of whom have large amounts of fresh food to donate.  More than 50 million Americans live in food insecure households, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The measure is part of a broader tax credit extension package that will be considered as part of the year-end spending bill, which the Senate will consider before the end of this year’s congressional session.  

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