A proposal aimed at helping what are known as “food recovery” programs, such as food banks, get discounted prices for fresh foods moved forward Monday in the Florida House, with lawmakers looking at a pilot program to help curb food insecurity in the state.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved the bill (HB 1159).
Under the bill, food recovery programs would be able to purchase produce and other foods at no more than 50 percent of “current wholesale market price” from growers.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would reimburse the food recovery programs and provide 2 cents per pound of food delivered to help cover the cost of delivery and distribution.
To participate, food banks would have to be nonprofits that have been in operation for at least 10 years and have received a minimum of 10 million pounds of perishable foods annually for the past three years.
A House staff analysis of the bill said an estimated 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten and that one-fifth of Floridians — including one million children — are food insecure.
“Food recovery programs are beneficial to residents who otherwise lack the means to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables by providing surplus goods for distribution to those in need rather than destroying them,” the analysis said. Rep. Rick Roth, a West Palm Beach Republican who owns an agricultural business, told the House panel that the bill is aimed at increasing the quality of food that food banks receive and providing an incentive for growers to participate.
The pilot program would be funded at $5 million in the 2024-2025 state budget. The bill would need approval from the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee before it could be considered by the full House.
A similar Senate bill (SB 1422) is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Committee.