Lawmakers are proposing an amendment to the Public Assistance Act (社會救助法) and the establishment of a national food bank to help 260,000 low-income households nationwide.
“If the legislation is passed, Taiwan will become the 22nd country with a food bank network,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a press conference yesterday.
The proposed amendment to Article 11 of the act would provide the government with a legal basis to help those in need with resources other than a cash subsidy, Lin said.
US Department of Agriculture statistics show that more than 46 million Americans, or about 15 percent of the US population, lived on assistance provided by food banks last year, Lin said.
If the same percentage were applied to Taiwan, about 3.5 million people would need similar assistance, Lin said.
Statistics compiled by the Environmental Protection Administration show that Taiwanese in 2010 wasted 2.75 million tonnes of food, the equivalent of 20 years of -consumption by 260,000 low-income households, Lin said.
“If established, the food bank network would be part of an improved social security net,” Lin said.
A local food bank in Greater Taichung set up by several civic groups has helped more than 20,000 people, said Chen Chieh-fu (陳玠甫), director of the Red Cross Society of Taiwan’s Taichung branch.
However, awareness and knowledge of food banks have to be promoted so that those in need would know where and how to seek help, he said.
With appropriate legislation, donors would be assured that the donation will not be mishandled.
Craig Nemitz, the Global FoodBanking Network’s Director of Field Services, told the press conference that he would love to help Taiwan establish a national food bank, which he said would have a positive impact on social welfare policy.