It is one thing to give people food. It’s another to give them food with nutritional value. Yet that’s the challenge Food Banks across the state face on a daily basis.When you consider the role diet plays in health, there is no question that distributing healthy food to those in need is critical. For low income populations many who rely on food banks, poor nutrition – and poor health as a result- is even more common. When people receive healthy food through the food banks, their health can improve. For children, it can improve their ability to learn.

The “Farm to Food Bank” bill allows New York farmers to receive a refundable tax credit for donations made to food banks and other emergency food programs serving low-income New Yorkers. If enacted, it would benefit New York farmers by making it more economically feasible for them to donate food to those in need. And, most importantly, it would benefit impoverished, food-insecure individuals by increasing their access to fresh, healthy produce.

Farm to Food Bank would permit eligible farmers to claim a refundable tax credit equal to 25% of the wholesale cost of their qualified donations to food banks or other public, charitable, or nonprofit emergency food programs, up to $5,000 per year.  A state tax credit to offset the out-of-pocket costs of harvesting processing, and transporting food that might otherwise go unharvested or undelivered would encourage our farmers to give more generously than they already do. A farmer who receives the maximum $5,000 tax credit would have actually provided $20,000 worth of fresh food (at wholesale prices) to an emergency food program.

The cost estimate for this refundable tax credit is $700,000- $800,000. That equates to about $3 million dollars of nutritious food donated for hungry families (tax credit is 25% of wholesale value). The bill has passed both the Senate and the Assembly with bipartisan support two years in a row, but has been twice vetoed by Governor Cuomo. He has stated both times it was outside the budget, despite this being a recommendation in the Governor’s Anti- Hunger Task Force. Senator Funk reintroduced it into the State Senate and for a third time it passed unanimously on January 30th, 2017. It is expected to be introduced in the Assembly shortly and passed again with unanimous support.

If enacted, it would benefit New York farmers by making it more economically feasible for them to donate food to those in need; the bill would also benefit the environment by decreasing food waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from landfills; and, most importantly, it would benefit impoverished, food-insecure individuals by increasing their access to fresh, healthy produce.

For those who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, such donations have the potential to positively impact their health outcomes in the long-term and meet their immediate food needs in the short-term. Fresh, locally grown food that might otherwise go to waste can now be distributed to New York’s neediest populations via the emergency food programs that serve them.

There are 2.7 million New Yorkers who are food-insecure/hungry — almost a million of whom are children. Any actions our state government can take to increase access to healthy, nutritious food for those who need it most should be taken. By offering a refundable tax credit to farmers who donate to food banks, this bill is a win-win for New York’s farming families and those who rely on emergency food programs to feed themselves and their families.

This is an issue that everyone supports, except for our Governor See the letter sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo

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