Bill providing tax breaks for grocers aims to cut down on food waste

Food providers donating to local food banks could see tax credits

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - Since its opening in 2014, Hart's Local Grocers in Rochester has been working to reduce food waste in the community. 

General Manager Colleen Griffin-Underhill said the store donates primarily produce three times a week to places like Foodlink, the region's food bank, and other local food panties to provide for those that need it most. 

"If we don't feel like we can sell it, and it's not bad, then we're going to donate it. So it's really everything. We don't discriminate. If we can get it into someone's hands that needs it, we will," said Griffin-Underhill.

A new bill going through the State Assembly and Senate would set up a tax credit for food vendors, restaurants, and most significantly, grocers, to incentivize the donation of surplus or food that would otherwise be wasted. The legislation is aimed at cutting down on food waste, which would provide for up to $5,000 in tax credits each year starting in 2019.

Foodlink's Communications Manager, Mark Dwyer, said, "I think this legislation could help the smaller stores that maybe don't have the infrastructure in place. They might need more money to devote to staff time to really focus on a donation policy, so hopefully this will help them do that."

Of the estimated 20 million pounds of food Foodlink distributes annually, Dwyer said about a third of that is donated by local Wegmans stores.

Dwyer also said food waste is an issue that's recently been coming to the forefront of the community.

"We've got these two very big and significant issues in both food waste and food insecurity. So, we're trying to marry those two together to hopefully come up with a solution where less people are going to bed hungry every night," said Dwyer.

He pointed out while there's enough food to go around, not everyone's being fed. Foodlink's hope is this bill will help towards changing that trend. 

The bill, which is in the committee stage, was sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D- Irondequoit) and can be viewed here.

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