Ending Agricultural Wasted Food

In 2015, Feeding America estimated that almost 13 percent of New York State’s population was food insecure, meaning 2,502,250 New Yorkers lack access to enough food for an active, healthy life. NYS’s largest food generators and distributors, such as farmers and grocers, hold the potential to help change this. In 2012, Feeding America estimated that 6 billion pounds, or 3 million tons, of fresh produce goes unharvested or unsold each year. This excess food from farms can help serve as a vital source of fresh food for those food insecure New Yorkers. In 2016, NYS farmers donated 13,175,336 pounds, or 6,588 tons, of fresh product (fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and meat) to NYS Food Banks. These donations have helped bring fresh food to people across NYS.

"I’m a farmer, what can I do?"

1.) Donate To Your Regional Food Bank

There are 10 regional food banks across NYS who work with their local hunger relief organizations (i.e., food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, after school nutrition programs, etc.) to distribute food to those who need it, especially nutritious fresh food. Find your local food bank here: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

2.) Make Smaller Donations To Local Food Pantries And/Or Soup Kitchens

Not all donations have to be funneled through the regional food bank. Smaller donations to food pantries and soup kitchens, especially of fresh food, are greatly appreciated. Click here to find your local food panties and/or soup kitchens.

3.) Partner With A Gleaning Group

Partner with local gleaning organizations to harvest excess produce in your fields for donation.

4.) Promote Ugly/Imperfect Produce

Ugly produce is still perfectly good to eat, but is often discarded or left in the field due to market standards regarding size, shape, and color. However, this doesn’t have to mean the carrot with the crooked nose has to go to waste. Some grocery stores have started to sell this produce at a reduced price while restaurants are also making similar investments. Some restaurants host special events where the menu focuses around dishes made from ugly produce.

5.) Donate Excess Food From Farmers Markets

Contact your local farmers market coordinator to see if excess produce from the market is collected and donated to local hunger relief organizations.

6.) Create Value Added Products

Value added products are products that have been altered in such a way that enhance its value. This means excess food on farms can be used to create additional valuable products for the farm to sell. For example, strawberries can be made into jam or tomatoes into sauce. Utilizing this excess food on the farm also allow farms to partner with businesses who are interested in creating these products.

NYS Farm To Food Bank Tax Credit

Passed in the 2017 NYS Executive Budget, the NYS Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit now allows NYS farmers to receive up to a $5,000 tax credit annually for 25 percent of the fair market value of their donation to NYS food banks, food pantries, and other emergency food programs. Eligible donors are NYS farmers whose federal gross income from farming for the taxable year is at least two-thirds of excess federal gross income. Eligible recipients are any NYS food bank, food pantry, or other emergency food program that is classified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit Legislative Language
Farm Bureau Farm to Food Bank Guidance

NYS farmers can also take advantage of the Enhanced Federal Tax Deduction for Food Donation. In 2015, the federal government passed legislation that extended the Federal Tax Deduction for Food Donations to include all businesses, including C-corporations, S-corporations, limited liability corporations (LLCs), partnerships, and sole proprietorships.

NRDC - A Farmer's Guide To The Enhanced Federal Tax Deduction for Food Donation
Harvard FLPC - Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide

Food Donation Liability

Liability is often cited as a food donation concern, but under the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, Public Law 104-210, donors are protected from civil and criminal liability if donations are made in good faith through a non-profit organization. New York State donors are additionally protected via New York Law: Agriculture & Markets Article 4-D Liability for Canned, Perishable Food or Farm Products Distributed Free of Charge.

Questions To Ask When Donating

- "Do you need (insert donation item) and are you able to accept it?"
- "Are there specific products in need?"
- "How much can I donate? How much can be accepted at your site?"
- "Are there products you do not accept?"
- "What are the delivery logistics?"
- "What are your hours of operation?"
          - "Will you pick my donation up?"
          - "If not, where should I drop my donation off?
          - "Is there anyone to assist with unloading my donation?"
- "What are the packing requirements?"
          - "How should I process and pack my donation?"
          - "If I donate in crates, will I receive my crates back?"
- "Can I receive a receipt for my donation (tax purposes)?"
- "Can you assist with the pick and pack out (PPO) cost?"
- "Are volunteers available to assist in gleaning my farm?"
          - "Do you provide insurance coverage?"