COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact impoverished communities. The nature of the pandemic is continuing to force many people into unemployment. Consequently, the pandemic has exacerbated the hunger crises among those who already survive on so little.
Interim Executive Director of nonprofit group Oxfam Chema Vera described the pandemic as the final straw for millions of people already struggling to survive through one challenge or another. These challenges stem from conflict, environmental challenges, inequality and a broken food system. Over many decades, this inequitable food system has impoverished millions of food producers and workers. The Global FoodBanking Network, however, is working to combat this COVID-19 hunger crisis with a strategic response.
About the Organization
The Global FoodBanking Network is a nonprofit organization that works in over 40 countries to alleviate food insecurity and hunger. It works with a variety of food banks to offer support and education. It also hopes to create a community more secure in its access to nutritional needs. The network has a variety of corporate partners aiding it in its COVID-19 food relief endeavors. These partners include Bank of America, BlackRock and Kellogg’s.
Additionally, the Global FoodBanking Network served 16.9 million people across 44 countries in 2019. It also supplied over 1.4 billion meals in the same year. Almost all of the countries the Global FoodBanking Network works with are developing economies. The largest areas of focus for the network are the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America at 56% and 27% respectively.
Responding to COVID-19
When COVID-19 received designation as a pandemic in March 2020, the Network released a statement regarding its intentions for food relief the following day. The statement indicated a desire to employ resources to prevent a COVID-19 hunger crisis from struggling communities. The Network’s plan included designating a COVID-19 fund as well as advocating governments and corporations for aid on behalf of local food banks. It also included sharing crisis education with food banks, making them better equipped to handle how the pandemic has impacted food distribution.
A major aspect of the Network’s COVID-19 hunger crisis response plan includes taking account of research. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic has published this research. The research team worked with The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas to create guidelines to maximize aid potential in food distribution. The study identifies that one-third of all food goes to waste, largely due to legal barriers. The research that the clinic conducted lays out steps to take in order to get more food to communities grappling with food insecurity.
Impact of The Global FoodBanking Network
Furthermore, the study introduced policy initiatives that could apply to several countries. These recommendations include establishing effective and explicit food safety guidelines on a national level. Recommendations also included that governments provide incentives to donate food by making it cheaper than food disposal. Professor Emily Broad Lieb is the faculty director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic. She says that this research represents actions the United States and the international community must take. These should help countries address the COVID-19 hunger crisis more effectively.
Despite the debilitating effects of COVID-19, the Global FoodBanking Network is working towards accomplishing its original goal of fighting hunger internationally. Its efforts combined with the guidance of new research could have important and positive implications on how the nonprofit community deals with food insecurity in a COVID and post-COVID era.
– Riya Kohli