Garden State aims to help those in need, cut down on food waste

 Legislation advanced in New Jersey aims to make it easier to donate food and consequently keep good food out of landfills. (AP file photo)

Legislation advanced in New Jersey aims to make it easier to donate food and consequently keep good food out of landfills. (AP file photo)

A package of bills advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee aims to reduce food waste and help ease hunger.

The legislation calls for an income tax break for businesses that give food to charitable organizations as well as liability protection for schools that donate edible items.

Paul Jensen with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen said that would help food pantries.

“We do over 300,000 meals a year just here in Trenton,” he said Monday. “There’s a lot of people just in this immediate area that need food, and throughout the state it’s even more. So these things would help us tremendously to make sure we keep receiving them.”

An estimated 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted, said Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith, D-Middlesex.

He said it would be far better to give it to the hungry instead of sending it to landfills.

“When you put it in a landfill, the methane that’s produced leaks. No matter how good the landfill collection system is, something like 50 percent of it is lost to the atmosphere,” he said. “And methane is a huge climate-changing gas.”

The legislation would also set a state goal of reducing the amount of food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

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