LIMA — Gary Bright is worried about the fiscal cliff. His concerns, however, aren’t about automatic defense cuts or tax hikes.
Bright, chief executive officer of the West Ohio Food Bank, is worried about the repercussions of the fiscal cliff solutions and how it will impact individuals’ donations to charities like the food bank as well as the impact on other services provided to people who rely on the food bank’s services.
“Our real concern is that for us 60 to 65 percent or more of our budget is dependent on private fundraising or private donations. Anything that’s going to impact people’s incentive to give to charity concerns us quite a bit,” Bright said. “I know there are a lot of things being thrown around, but the cap on deductions for giving to charity, that’s the biggest thing that would impact us. If they decide to do the cap, that would provide a disincentive to give.”
Bright said estimates are that with a cap or no deduction for charitable gifts, annual giving would drop by 25 to 36 percent. That’s a real concern, especially as the need for services provided by the food bank continues to rise, he said.
“The way that the economy has been going anyhow with the recession that has lasted as long as it has, we’ve already seen donations decrease,” Bright said. “Now something like this really does have us worried about what could happen.”
Cuts to food benefit programs, like the food stamps program, would send more people to the food bank or affiliated food pantries causing further strain on their ability to provide those services with decreased donations, Bright said.
“It really is a double-edged sword," Bright said. “We’ve already had an increase in the need for our services just with the effect of the recession.”
Bright said he’s hopeful the issue will be resolved without further adversely affecting those most in need.
“We don’t know how this is going to turn out,” Bright said. “Hunger has never been a political issue. If somebody is hungry, it should be about providing them a meal.”