Helping food pantries

Most organizations that run food pantries say the need for donations is constant. At times, shelves get bare and some requests for assistance are reduced or unfilled.

Currently, those making donations to food pantries run by not-for-profit agencies can claim a tax deduction -- if they itemize deductions on their tax returns.

House Speaker Rod Jetton of Marble Hill, Mo. -- with support from other area legislators and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau -- has three ideas for improving the availability of food for the needy. One plan would provide more food stamps for the elderly. Another would give more state funding to nutrition programs that provide home-delivered meals. And the third plan would give tax credits for donations up to $2,500 to any single food pantry.

Tax credits, unlike tax deductions, can be used to reduce a taxpayer's tax bill even if that taxpayer doesn't itemize deductions.

The objective of Jetton's proposals is to provide enough incentives to Missourians to make sure food pantries for the needy are stocked year-around. His ideas deserve further consideration. In the process, other ideas for encouraging more help may emerge.