‘GOOD SAMARITANS’ to answer food shortage
Senator Richard Gordon pronounced today that the increase of hunger proportion rates in the country can be curtailed as he called on for the donation of unused food from hotels, restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and other businesses for distribution to less fortunate citizens who cannot provide for their basic food requirements.
Gordon said it is about time that private individuals and institutions be actively involved in the government’s drive to reduce food shortage and malnutrition and not just be “mere spectators and sympathizers of impoverishment.”
“Tons of edible and unused food is wasted in dining establishments and markets. It is a shame that we don’t utilize these resources and turn them into something palatable for the others,” exclaimed Gordon.
The senator disclosed that while there are willing prospective food volunteers and donors and while “Charitable and Other Contributions” is already an allowable deduction from gross income in the computation of income tax as provided in Sec. 34 (H) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, the contributors are still sometimes hesitant to offer help because of possible strict legal liability of such actions.
Gordon said that through Senate Bill 1710 which he filed, concerns on the legal liability of food donations for charitable purposes will be addressed. The bill, also known as the “Food Donation Act”, aims to encourage the collection and donation of surplus food to needy people for charitable purposes.
The said bill provides for the collection of raw, cooked, processed, or prepared food or grocery products that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by law and for its distribution to non-profit organizations who cater to needy individuals.
“There are unused food produce that are very much edible which meets the quality standards of law but are not marketable due to appearance or size or grade. We should have a look at all these products and develop their potential to be the answer to our long-time problem of food shortage,” said Gordon.
According to Gordon, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported that more than 16 million Filipinos are estimated to be below the food and subsistence threshold as of the year 2000. He emphasized that “the figures are very alarming” as he also cited the latest report of the Social Weather Stations polling agency of a rise to 15% in August this year of Filipinos experiencing hunger.
Gordon said that “we cannot deny the country’s food shortage dilemma, however, what we should do is not to fix the blame but to fix the problem.”
Gordon, who is also Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, added that collected food can also be distributed and stored in various frequently typhoon stricken provinces and become ready for dissemination during disasters. He added that relief operations during calamities have been a long time problem of the country but “we still have not addressed it accordingly.”
Members of the Christian Lawyers Association of the Philippines have expressed their strong support for the Food Donation Act bill and vowed to lobby for its immediate passage.
8 May 2006