Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on much these days, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll work together on this. Last week U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced H.R. 3177, the Hunger Relief Trucking Tax Credit Act, also known as the Gleaning Bill.
The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), would create a “25-cent tax credit for each mile that food is transported for a charity by a donated truck and driver for hunger relief efforts.”
McGovern’s statement about the bill explained that many fruits and vegetables that aren’t ripe when the initial harvest takes place get left on trees and in fields because it’s too expensive for farmers to do a second harvest. Gleaning occurs when volunteers go into the fields and harvest what’s been left behind when it has ripened. The food is then donated to food banks and other places that distribute the fresh produce to those in need.
The Gleaning Bill would “encourage and reward individuals and businesses who haul gleaned food from one location to another within the U.S.” If the cost of transportation and fuel isn’t a barrier to delivering the food, less food will be left to rot in the fields and more people can be fed with fresh produce.
As I was writing this, an email came through from my local food bank. It opened with this statistic for my region.
“More people are feeling the pain of hunger than even before. In fact, there is a 70% increase in food insecure individuals — and 57,820 are children.”
It also said that the food bank has bare shelves. This Gleaning Act could help to fill some of those shelves. Right now, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. There’s no telling if it will make it out of committee and be submitted for a vote in the House and the Senate. If you click on the Ways and Means link, you can see what representatives are on that committee. If one of the 36 representatives happens to be your representative, take a moment and send an email encouraging your representative to support this bill.