A P.E.I. Opposition bill linking food waste and food insecurity is misguided, says a University of Toronto researcher.

Reducing food waste is a good idea in itself, Valerie Tarasuk told CBC News, but linking it to food insecurity is not.

It's about income

MLA Steven Myers, who introduced the bill, said by focusing on developing a system for donation, food could get to people who need it instead of being thrown out.

But Tarasuk said a lack of donated food is not the cause of food insecurity.

Valerie Tarasuk

Governments need to consider carefully how tax dollars are diverted, says Valerie Tarasuk. (CBC)

"When people are struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their families it's a problem of income. So the solutions to that problem are income-based solutions," she said.

"Food waste is a completely different issue."

Food banks are not a solution

While food banks are helpful for many people, they will not solve the problem of food insecurity, Tarasuk said.

"Food banks are just a Band-Aid, and the legislation to facilitate corporate donations to food banks are just another part of that Band-Aid," she said.

Tarasuk said her own research and the research of others shows that fewer than one in four food insecure Islanders use a food bank. Even for those who do go to the food bank, she said, it will not make them food secure.

Tax breaks aimed at the wrong target

Any system that provides tax breaks for donated food is diverting tax dollars in the wrong direction, Tarasuk said.

"It makes no sense that we would give tax credits to large, multinational food processors for donations to food banks," she said.

"If anybody needs a tax credit, it's the people using food banks."

Tarasuk pointed out there is already legislation in place protecting businesses from liability for donated food, and that there are savings to be had by not having to pay the tipping fees associated with sending waste food to the dump.

With files from Laura Chapin