Taxing our food banks

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Give food banks a break

By Bill Bolling

A recent AJC news story addressed Gov. Nathan Deal’s surprising decision to veto a bill in May, which would have reinstated sales tax exemptions for food banks and health centers, because it hadn’t been vetted by his competitiveness panel.

Many have asked me how food bank exemptions ended up in front of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council with film, technology, energy and other industries. I’m surprised myself.

On behalf of the state’s seven food banks and the nearly 2,300 community-based organizations we serve, I recently made our case alongside those industries for sales and use exemptions that are critical to hunger relief efforts in Georgia. At the Atlanta Community Food Bank alone, we can leverage one dollar into $8.47 worth of groceries for struggling families in the communities we serve.

The nonprofit sector has long partnered with the public sector in delivering critical services to the community. We are trusted to work efficiently, and with accountability. We bring private dollars to the table through individual and corporate contributions.

The sales tax exemption we seek for bulk purchase of food — one we had for many years before losing it two years ago — would allow us to buy food to provide hundreds of thousands more meals for Georgia families. In addition, the sales and use tax exemptions for prepared food donated for hunger relief would enable us to accept unsold food from restaurants that would otherwise send that food to a landfill. And should disaster strike, without the exemptions, private-sector disaster-relief donations of prepared food would be taxed.

Since 2010, we have worked with the General Assembly and the lieutenant governor’s and governor’s offices to renew these exemptions. We have had near-unanimous support, including the endorsement of the Georgia Chamber Economic Development and Taxation Committee. I understand every dollar has to count in this budget environment — all the more reason to make our case to the Governor’s Competitiveness Council that food banks can leverage these tax exemption dollars with efficiencies and partnerships in ways that many entities, including the government, cannot.

Gov. Deal said his priority was to create jobs for Georgians. He said people with good paying jobs don’t have expectations of government providing for their needs. We agree. But as government wants to play a lesser role in providing benefits for people in need, the nonprofit sector is expected to step up. These exemptions are essential to nonprofits already pressed to stretch resources as we strive to sustain our ability to serve.

Georgia’s seven regional food banks have long comprised a reliable network that delivers hunger relief critical to the one in five Georgians who don’t know where their next meal will come from. We believe feeding hungry children is a wise, long-term strategy to ensure they grow up healthy and ready to work as adults.

The governor is right in seeking to leverage every exemption Georgia grants. It is my hope and expectation that he will hold his administration accountable to closely examine each entity requesting exemptions before making such an important decision.

Bill Bolling is chairman of the Georgia Food Bank Association.

43 comments Add your comment


September 29th, 2013
6:43 pm


The governor loaned money to HIS DAUGHTER and HER business failed. He was left with a huge debt , even putting his home for sale. Since then he has been able to recover some of his losses.

Have you ever tried to help your children? Or do you only whine about the children of others? Of do you only whine about the affairs of conservative politicians? (Silly question!)

The governor’s business affairs are now placed in trust which means he is not making family financial decisions.

If you really want to see some strange “business” transactions, wipe the tears from your eyes and check out the top officials of Atlanta. at the moment. That might keep you busy enough to stop lambasting our cost containing governor.who is trying to keep the ship of state from sinking.

And don’t forget: USA DEBT IS OVER 17 TRILLION DOLLARS and growing. That’s a bit murky, too, don’t you think?. . .


September 29th, 2013
6:12 pm

Dusty @1:11 pm – “It was a nightmare for me. I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago.” – Bernie Madoff

Unfortunately, The Georgia Citizenry will share similar sentient when it all SHAKES OUT! in 2018!

Pray tell how much of that $74 million is left and unresolved. Being that you are so confident in this
Sterling financial Wizardry of Dear Leader. I am not aware of a 74 million dollar salary payouts to any politician in Georgia. Something Tells me I am going to need a SPREADSHEET.


September 29th, 2013
6:01 pm

Dusty @1:11 pm – We hear ya! A real Financial GENIUS and Protector and Guardian of Financial integrity. One who entered the Governor’s office with (74) Seventy-Four Million Dollars of Personal Debt is not exactly a Financial WIZARD, when it comes to handling his own finances.

One could easily make a comparison to Dear Leader being A mini Bernie MadOFF of financial CREATIVITY, only a Forensic Accountant could understand.

So much for the Financial Integrity angle…..Rather Murky. I would say and so would many others..


September 29th, 2013
1:11 pm

Well, it is such a nice day. Good time to remember: USA DEBT IS 17 TRILLION DOLLARS. Wow!!

Just reminding those here who don’t remember THE DEBT and keep trying to add to it. It’s enough to raise the ilk, spill the milk, and soil the silk!

(Add famous saying here from Famous Sayings book!)

I am glad our governor is so aware of this country’s financial difficulties and the problems at the state level. I hope he continues financial integrity in Georgia.. We must have that since there is no leadership in Washington, only disastrous over spending. like we have never seen before.

“Lest we forget! Lest we forget!” Somebody said that but I don’t know who it was.


September 29th, 2013
12:10 pm

@@ – 7:41 am My, What a Strange GOD you, Your ilk and Dear Leader……Worships so lovingly and Protectively.



September 29th, 2013
7:41 am

We are trusted to work efficiently, and with accountability. We bring private dollars to the table through individual and corporate contributions.

So corporations don’t get to write off their charitable giving?

That oughta make our leftists happy. How dare they try to get credit for their charitable giving.

Eat ^^^ that, Bernie.


September 28th, 2013
9:54 pm

You mean to to Tell me that The Total Number Of Food Banks is so High in Number. That this is an issue, that cannot be verified in SHort Order? if placed in a priority status?

The Advocacy and support Arthur Blanks 1.2. Billion Dollar Tax Funded New Foot Ball Stadium Has Received far more interest and personal attention from Dear leaders Office than facilitating the Needs of those who provide the poor. Such a Financial Burden should be waived for these proven providers of the least among US.

Obviously the Needs of the Poor are not a PRIORITY at ALL….It seems as though they are being punished and at the same time punishing those who Help Them….Either way, one could not help but think the age old question “What Would Jesus DO?” Surely a decision completely different and the opposite of Dear Leader.


September 28th, 2013
7:50 pm

The goal of government is complete societal dependence on them for all things. Dependence breeds obedience and that will seal the deal. Doing everything they can to eliminate the private VOLUNTARY competition is essential to destroying the belief (actually the truth) that everyone can get along fine without any government or government involvement in the economy. It is bad enough that the government already takes a significant portion of everyone’s income, thus reducing our ability to give even more to private charities, but moves like this are doing an end run around the enormous generosity we all show despite all that is take from the fruits of our labor. Just another example of how we would all be better off with far, far less government.


September 28th, 2013
6:28 pm

Catlady, are you saying that the Atlanta Food Bank is running a scam or are you just messing around? Innuendo doesn’t become you. One or the other please.


September 28th, 2013
6:18 pm

Tax cuts for companies that continue to outsource jobs overseas and refuse to invest at home but criminalize hunger and poverty at home – that’s the Republican agenda.