How Are States Addressing the Food Insecurity That Still Faces One in Six People in the U.S.?

Food security, as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, means a person has access to enough to eat to have an active and health life. Food insecurity, which has been reported by every count in the United States, encompasses a range of conditions. Very low food security includes disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake is prevalent. Marginal food security is characterized by anxiety over food shortages. In 2016, the United States had a 12.9 percent rate of food insecurity, which translates to approximately 41,204,000 people going hungry on a regular basis (based on Feeding America statistics). States take a variety of actions to address the issue of hunger and food insecurity. Some of the tax credits that states use to address food security are outlined below.  


Qualified taxpayers who donate fresh fruits or vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, or fish to a food bank in California can claim a credit of 15 percent of the qualified value of the donation. Qualified taxpayers are the people responsible for planting, managing, or harvesting the crop from land, growing or raising a qualified donation item, or harvesting, packing, or processing a qualified item. Donors must give the food bank the qualified value of the donation items and information on the origin of the donated items including were grown and/or processed.  


Idaho offers residents a refundable grocery tax credit of $100 per person. The credit can be claimed on an Idaho tax return or, for residents not required to file an income tax return, on Form 24, 40, or 43. Idahoans who are 65 years old and up are eligible for additional $20 credit. Idahoans of any income level are eligible to claim the credit, but participation in other food programs (i.e., SNAP or food stamps) can result in prorated benefits. Additionally, taxpayers who were incarcerated during the taxable year receive the credit in proportion to the number of months that they were not incarcerated.


Maryland offers a tax credit to individuals who donate venison to a charitable organization. The law allows hunters to claim a credit against state income tax to cover the expenses of processing antlerless deer if the meat is donated to an organization that feeds the hungry. The credit equals up to $50 of the expenses incurred by the individual in hunting and processing each deer. Unless the individual the harvesting deer does so in accordance with a deer management permit, the credit is capped at $200 for each individual for each taxable year.

South Carolina

Licensed meat packers, butchers, or processing plants having a valid contract with a nonprofit organization to process deer for donation to a charitable organization engaged in distributing food to the needy can claim a $75 credit for each donation. The processing must take place in a licensed or permitted establishment. The donated deer cannot be used by a commercial enterprise. The Venison for Charity credit is claimed on Form SC1040TC.

West Virginia

West Virginia offers a credit to farming taxpayers who donate edible agricultural products raised or grown in West Virginia to a food bank. Edible products include fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish, and eligible taxpayers must derive at least $1,000 from these growing and raising these products. The Farm-to-Food Bank Tax Credit is 10 percent of the value of the donated products, up to $2,500. The value of the donations is either (1) the previous sale price received by the taxpayer for goods of comparable quality or (2) the fair market value of the donated products as determined by the average weekly regional produce auction prices or U.S.D.A. prices for meat, fish, and dairy products. Taxpayers must provide an estimate of the value of products to the nonprofit food program at the time of donation. When they donate the products, they also receive a donation form, which must be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to claim the credit.