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Jan
24 2014

Fighting Hunger with Local Food – a win for Ontario!

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

By Heather Brady Every day, hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario turn to their local food bank for support in putting food on the table. Although originally introduced as a temporary solution, food banks continue to serve as a vital response to the growing issue of hunger.  Throughout the province food banks have developed innovative programs to provide healthy, nutritious food to their communities. Despite their efforts however they continue to be faced with decreasing donations and increasing demand for services. As a result, many food banks are struggling to find enough fresh and healthy produce for everyone that comes through their doors.  Thanks to an act of provincial government, this struggle just got a little bit easier. The Ontario Government made history by becoming the first province in Canada to provide a tax credit for farmers who donate fruits and vegetables to local food banks. Beginning in January, farmers in Ontario will receive a 25 per cent tax credit based on the fair market value of the produce that they donate.  This tax credit will help cover the costs of harvesting and transporting produce to food banks. Farmers in Ontario play a very important role in supporting local food banks and have donated thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables across the province. A tax credit will encourage further donation and will help offset the additional costs that farmers must incur to collect, process and deliver their produce to local food banks. This private members bill was first introduced by MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) who became involved after he volunteered at a local food bank in Sarnia and heard of their need for fresh fruit and vegetables. The idea was to implement a tax credit which would support local food banks, local farmers and low-income Ontarians. It would provide a financial benefit for farmers and would increase the supply of nutritious food to food banks and families in Ontario. For the last three years Mr. Bailey worked with the Ontario Association of Food Banks to gain support for this initiative. While it has been a slow process with delays in bringing the bill forward because of timing issues, the bill received unanimous support from all parties and was championed this past summer by Premier Wynne. For Mr. Bailey this has been an example of what can be accomplished when all parties work together – the result is a win for everyone involved. Bill Laidlaw, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB), worked tirelessly alongside MPP Bob Bailey to bring this bill into reality and congratulated the Ontario government for this tax credit and for recognizing the importance of food security across Ontario. Alongside his praise however were some words of caution, “While it is great to see a tax credit of this kind created and passed by the provincial government, there is more that needs to be done, and more that can be done, to eradicate hunger in Ontario.”

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