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Ruiz, Cruz-Perez Bill to Improve Access to Fresh Produce Advances

Trenton – To create greater access to healthy foods and reduce food waste, the Senate Economic Growth Committee advanced legislation today sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez that incentivizes farmers to donate fresh produce.

“By creating more opportunities for farmers to donate directly to charitable organizations throughout the state, we can assist food pantries in offering more food options for residents in need,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex/Hudson). “Through these tax credits for produce donations, we can also help to ensure everyone here in the Garden State has access to healthy food options.”

The bill, S-2200, would establish a pilot program for three years in the Department of Treasury that provides a tax credit against the corporate business tax and the gross income tax for the value of fruits and vegetables donated to any charitable organization by commercial farm operators.

According to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, 75 percent of people they serve often choose inexpensive and unhealthy food options.

“People struggling to make ends meet often choose unhealthy food options due to their convenience and affordability,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Because of this, low-income individuals face higher obesity rates and greater risks of chronic health problems. This bill aims to improve the health and wellness of people in need by providing healthy, nutritious food to charitable organizations that would otherwise go to waste.”

The tax credit would equal 50 percent of the wholesale value of the fruits or vegetables and be available for donations from 2024-2029.

Farms would be eligible for up to $5,000 per year in tax credits. The pilot program would be capped at $100,000 in annual tax credits.

The Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury would be required to prepare an annual report that includes information on the utilization of the credit and the produce donations.

The legislation advanced out of the committee in a 5-0 vote.