Joined by local advocates to end hunger and food insecurity, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf in Burlington that a provision incentivizing donations of surplus food to local food pantries was recently signed into law, helping efforts to cut back on food waste and supporting communities help those in need across the country.
During this congress, Leahy successfully led a bipartisan effort to expand and make permanent tax deductions for businesses and farms for donated food to community food shelves this year. 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. This amounts to an estimated 70 billion pounds of wasted food each year.
Leahy said: “The burden of hunger threatens the livelihood and wellbeing of communities across Vermont. Hunger leads to malnourishment, obesity, diabetes and academic and social difficulty among children, and we all know a hungry child cannot learn. Vermont is a leader in the fight against hunger, and I was proud support this common sense provision to cut down on food waste and redirect resources to those in need.”
The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf serves over 12,000 Vermonters each year, and continues to see an increase in visitors seeking food assistance. Rob Meehan, Executive Director of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf said, “Many of the people we serve face difficult choices including skipping meals so their children will have enough to eat, choosing between food and medicine, food and housing, food and healthcare simply because they do not have enough money. We need more help from our federal government to feed vulnerable Vermonters and this is a valuable step in that direction.”
The provision, the House companion of Leahy’s Senate legislation the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief