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90.5 WESA reporters look at food issues in the region, including access, school lunch programs, food history, culture and more. Check our collection of stories below.

Casey Calls for Passage of Bill Aimed at Increasing Food Bank Donations

As many families gear up for their Thanksgiving feasts, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is calling attention to those who are struggling to put food on their dinner tables.

Casey is pushing for passage of a bill that would expand and make permanent tax incentives for businesses that donate to food banks. Nearly 2 million Pennsylvania residents are food insecure.

“Twenty percent of children in Pennsylvania are food insecure, meaning that they household the child is in experienced a shortage of food, and that’s just unacceptable,” said Casey. “We can’t say we’re a great country if we allow numbers like this to persist.”

Casey said the bill would boost food banks across the state by offering tax incentives for food donations. Casey said he would like to see the bill included in the end-of-the-year tax extenders bill.

“By some estimates, 40 percent of the food that’s produced, grown and transported will never be used because businesses find it too costly to donate the excess food,” said Casey.

The Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act would extend and make permanent tax incentives already in place for corporations.

“The big benefit here is small and mid-sized businesses including farmers, retailers, restaurants and food manufacturers – it’ll make those small and mid-sized businesses better able to donate food, including fresh produce,” said Casey.

The bill would also allow farmers and other “cash method” accounting taxpayers to consider 25 percent of the fair market value of the donated food as the cost to produce the food and would increase the 10 percent cap of allowable charitable contributions to 15 percent for donated food. Casey said these provisions have been proven effective.

“When this was renewed, meaning the incentive was available through the end of 2013, just in the restaurant industry alone there was a 137 percent increase in the pounds of food donated across the country,” he said.

Casey said the legislation has bipartisan support, and if it is not included in the end-of-year tax extenders bill, would likely be considered in early 2015.