PCs unveil plan to support food banks with local produce, meatsJuly 18, 2013
KITCHENER – The Ontario PC Caucus has announced plans to introduce an amendment to the Local Food Act that would provide much-needed support to food banks throughout the province by giving a tax credit to farmers who donate excess fruits, vegetables and meats to those in need, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.
“This proposal is a positive step forward to assist the nearly 80 different food-bank programs in Waterloo Region,” Harris said. “When the Legislature resumes in September, I would hope that all members will support this simple solution, which would make a big difference in the lives of Ontarians struggling to put food on the table for their families.”
Every year, Ontario farmers produce more than 25 million pounds of food that is either thrown out or ploughed back into their fields while many food banks face shortages. This food is fresh and nutritious but is not chosen for sale by grocery stores because of aesthetic reasons, such as size, shape or colour.
“The problem is many farmers cannot afford the additional costs to collect, process, and deliver their unsold produce and meats to local food banks despite a clear desire in the industry to do so,” Harris said. “That’s why the Ontario PCs believe the government should provide a financial incentive to farmers who choose to donate excess food.”
The PC amendment, announced by Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey and Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, would grant a non-refundable tax credit worth 25% of the wholesale value of any excess food that farmers donate to local food banks. Additionally, any unused tax credits could be carried forward up to five years.
“This legislative solution would help farmers throughout the province and Ontarians in need while diverting millions of pounds of organic waste from disposal,” Harris said. “Keeping organics out of landfills leads to greater waste diversion in Ontario and reduces methane emissions in the atmosphere, which is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas.”
The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) reports that food bank usage in Ontario has increased 10% between 2008 and 2012.
More than 413,000 Ontarians, including 160,000 children, used food banks every month in 2012 – an all-time high for the province. This increased demand has placed a lot of pressure on food banks to increase their food supply. More than 17,000 households accessed food banks for the first time in 2012.
More than 70% of food bank users do not receive the minimum recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables according to the Canada Food Guide.
More than 25 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food is disposed of or ploughed back into farmers’ fields in Ontario each year.