Yakima, Wash. – People experiencing food insecurity could soon have access to more fresh fruits and vegetables through food banks if a new piece of legislation passes.
Representative Dan Newhouse, along with other legislators, introduced the Food Donation Improvement Act last December. This bipartisan bill would expand on the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 by adding farmers to list of donors that are protected.
Under the Good Samaritan Act, grocery stores that donate food cannot be found liable if the food they donate gets someone sick. It also gives tax benefits to organizations that donate their extra food.
Farmer Lon Inaba said he agrees with the legislation protecting farmers from lawsuits.
“I’m all in favor of that because it’s the attorneys that come after people and make your life miserable and give you a big disincentive to do it,” Inaba said.
He’s been donating his extra food to Northwest Harvest for about 10 years. This is the food that doesn’t meet market standards because a fruit or vegetable might be too small or too big. Before donating it, he said pounds of this food would normally go to waste.
“It gives you a pretty good feeling when you give it away to people that can actually utilize it,” Inaba said.
Executive Director of Food Recovery Network Regina Anderson said across our nation food waste is a problem.
“The fact that one-third of the food that we produce isn’t eaten, it’s thrown away, it’s causing climate change and we know that for a fact,” Anderson said. “We can change the narrative to the right thing to do is to ensure people are eating this food.”
The CEO of Northwest Harvest Thomas Reynolds said if this bill passes, they see fresh food donations increasing and they’re preparing for it. Northwest Harvest is building a new distribution center in Yakima with the capacity to store more fresh produce.
“That’s gonna help people that struggle with hunger all throughout the state,” Reynolds said.
Here in Yakima, the Director of Yakima SDA Food Bank Mary Ann Risenhoover said it would help people save money.
“Give them some more nutrition, more selection, and that way they don’t have to spend as much money at the grocery store,” Risenhoover said.
Anderson said while hunger seems like too large of a problem to fight, if we focus on small parts of the problem, more can get done.
“If we think about our neighborhoods, our regions, our state we can really begin to ease the suffering of people,” Anderson said.
She also added that food donation alone will not solve the problem of hunger. The Food Recovery Network is also working to push for other legislation to help fight hunger.
If you are food insecure Yakima SDA Food Bank is open Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 507 North 35th Avenue. They have perishable and non-perishable items.
Yakima Valley College Student Food Pantry
Yakima Campus – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10a.m. to 2p.m.
Grandview Campus – Wednesdays 10a.m. to 2p.m. Both locations have non-perishable items.
Article Source: Fox 11