Farmers Will Be Incentivized To Donate Produce To Feed the Hungry if This Bill Advances Through Florida’s Senate

Toby Hazlewood

Distributing wasted food to hungry Floridians

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A Republican Senator, Jason Brodeur of Sanford is sponsoring new legislation under SB1832 which successfully passed the first of three hurdles of approval on Wednesday January 26.

The Food Recovery legislation is intended to incentivize Florida's farmers who donate high-quality produce that might otherwise be wasted, by reimbursing them for certain costs of production.

Food would be donated to agencies that would then distribute it to those in need within the state. $500,000 would be provided to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to fund the program.

Food insecurity is a long-standing problem in Florida, and this bill is another attempt to try and improve the situation a little.

Feeding 1 million hungry children in Florida

Speaking on the bill, Senator Brodeur had this to say:

“We have surplus fruits and vegetables that are getting thrown out that really have nothing wrong with them."

He continued, stating that incentivizing farmers to donate produce will help to:

“...reduce the food insecurity, particularly among the 1 million children that go hungry or suffer from chronic hunger in the state of Florida.”

On the face of it, the bill seems to make sense - taking food resources that would otherwise go to waste and instead, diverting this to those in need while making sure the farmers who grow the produce are fairly reimbursed. Whether the $500,000 allocated to the initiative is enough to make a difference given the senator's estimate of how many Floridian kids are hungry, remains to be seen.

The scale of food waste is shameful

Estimates suggest that the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons of it every year. That is roughly 219 pounds of food for every American, or around 650 apples per person.

43% of that food is thrown out by homes, but 16% is discarded by farms. Florida's food recovery bill is trying to redistribute some of that wasted food to those in need.

The problem of food insecurity

Before the pandemic, it was estimated that around 35 million people across America were food-insecure. That number is expected to increase to 50 million in 2022. According to the organization Feeding Florida, 3.1 million Floridians struggle to afford nutritious food.

Securing adequate sources of food for those in need is only part of the problem though. In the years since the pandemic, more and more Americans have come to rely on food banks to feed their families. In Florida, these charitable organizations are now struggling to retain the number of volunteers that are needed to service those in need.

With so many peoples' welfare relying on charitable donations of food, and food shortages having to be addressed by incentivizing the redistribution of food that might otherwise go in the garbage, it seems like there is a way to go to solve the problems that many in Florida are facing right now.

Have you witnessed or suffered food insecurity? Are you concerned about the levels of food that are wasted? Let me know in the comments section below.

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