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food banks in AfricaAccording to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 702 to 828 million people worldwide suffered from hunger in 2021, and more than 30% of them were on the African continent. While there are many hunger relief efforts on the continent, food banks are the least prominent or known. There are many reasons for this, including bureaucracy in local governments, lack of funding, poor geographical location and poor infrastructure. Nevertheless, food banks in Africa are increasing in number despite the challenges and are making a significant impact on reducing food insecurity. Some things to know about food banks in Africa include:

Food banks are relatively new to Africa.

While there may be many hunger relief initiatives in Africa with long histories, food banks, especially those formed by local initiatives, did not form before the beginning of the 21st century. The earliest African food banks include the Egyptian Food Bank, founded in 2006, and FoodForward South Africa, founded in 2009.

Food is sourced directly from farmers and processing companies.

Most food waste in Africa comes from post-harvest and food processing levels of food distribution. This is unlike established food banking systems in the U.S. and Europe, which mainly source food waste from restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and other similar places. Other differences between these established systems and emerging ones in Africa and other parts of the world are challenging what is understood about food banking. As a result, food banking is being reevaluated on its impact on food insecurity.

Food banks expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the number of people in Africa suffering from hunger increased by 46 million; by 2021, 278 million people on the continent faced hunger. New food banks in Africa stepped up to cope with the increase and served 906,026 people, increasing their reach by 169% compared to their impact in 2019. Through the Africa Food Bank Incubator Conference held annually since 2019, African food banks came together virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic to share advice and strategies contributing to their exponential growth.

In 2019, African food banks joined the Global Food Banking Network for the first time.

The Global Food Banking Network is a nonprofit organization supporting food banks worldwide. Except for its partnership with FoodForward South Africa, the organization had no presence in the African continent. In 2019, the organization partnered with 40 food banks in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Botswana to form the Africa Incubator Program.

Food banks are helping food insecurity.

Food banking systems as a means to combat food insecurity and food waste in Africa will continue to mature as the continent continues to develop alongside the refinement of international interdependence. The present challenges to food banking in Africa can therefore be considered an opportunity to test innovative solutions in the fight against food poverty.

– Kena Irungu
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in South Korea South Korea is largely considered among the most advanced and financially secure countries in the world.

It was ranked among the most innovative countries in 2015 and is known for dramatically transforming itself within the span of a generation.

Once known as a nation recovering from war with a fragile, precariously positioned economy, South Korea now enjoys widespread prosperity.

Although not all South Koreans enjoy equally in the country’s development, there are measures in place to work towards minimizing hunger, and South Korea is notable for its efforts in this area. In the text below, top 10 facts regarding hunger in South Korea are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in South Korea

  1. South Korea ranks 25th on the Global Food Security Index. This suggests it is among the most secure countries in the world when it comes to securing food for its population, and the majority of people in the country are not in danger of starvation.
  2. South Korea has among the lowest levels of stunting and other starvation based disorders in the world. Percentage of the prevalence of moderate and severe stunting is at 3 percent.
  3. The elderly, migrant workers and refugees are the demographic groups that are most likely to suffer from hunger in South Korea. These groups are most likely to be targeted by employment discrimination. In the case of the elderly, starvation may occur because of lack of familial or community support after retirement. These populations are an anomaly in an otherwise wealthy nation.
  4. According to a Yale study, South Korea has taken steps to reduce food waste by roughly 300 tonnes per day. Trial districts in Seoul have succeeded in reducing food waste by 30 percent in households and by 40 percent in restaurants. This has been beneficial in reducing hunger and in maximizing efficient use of resources.
  5. One major step towards food security in South Korea was achieving rice self-sufficiency. South Korea cultivated rice as a domestic product that would feed its people while also being a successful export to bolster its economy. It reached rice self-sufficiency in the 1970s.
  6. Although South Korea applied protectionist policies to its domestic rice and livestock industries, it also allowed international trade for products it did not cultivate at high rates, such as flour-based goods. This system of domestic development with openings for foreign imports allowed South Korea to grow as an economy while also sufficiently and effectively feeding the country’s population.
  7. South Korea has committed to contribute $20 million to the World Food Programme in an effort to end world hunger. This will allow funding for various food security programs around the world over a five year period.
  8. South Korea is investing in vertical farming to further promote food security. This process involves creating farms that will be two or three stories high, with the possibility of aiming higher as agricultural techniques advance. This investment allows for efficient food production at faster rates.
  9. South Korea has gone from one of the largest recipients of food security aid to one of the largest contributor to the cause. In many ways, it represents a success story of a country that formerly received aid. The aid funneled towards South Korea not only improved the lives of the country’s citizens but also invigorated its contributions in ensuring food security around the world in the future.
  10. Food banks are also successful and frequently utilized in South Korea. Many of them are community-based initiatives that are undertaken to combat hunger among underprivileged South Koreans.

Despite a few challenges, South Korea has fairly high food security and continues to embark on new projects to feed its population. Food security is among its primary concerns, and both government and community-based initiatives exist to prevent possible problems regarding this issue.

South Korea can serve as a model for struggling nations aiming to achieve food security, and also as a model for wealthy nations in terms of providing food security aid.

– Isha Madan
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Hunger in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is traditionally known as a flourishing, stable European entity serving as a popular travel destination. Despite its ranking as the fifth wealthiest country in the world, hunger in the United Kingdom is an entrenched problem and the country faces food poverty at an ever-growing rate.

Food poverty, as the Institute of Public Health defines, is “the inability to afford or have reasonable access to food which provides a healthy diet.” Income disparity is one of the major factors causing food poverty.

Low-income families can spend nearly 25 percent of their annual income on food. Upper-class families, on the other hand, may only spend about 4.2 percent on food. These low-income families are not able to buy healthy food such as fruits and vegetables at the rates they formerly could.

As a 2013 Kellogg’s report notes, “the U.K.’s poorest households…are being forced to cut back on fruits by 20 percent and vegetables by 12 percent.” Families who do spend the money on these foods push themselves further into poverty.

Prior to 2013, hunger in the United Kingdom was rarely discussed since the rates were less alarming. With the advent of the benefit sanctions, hundreds of thousands of citizens have become dependent on food banks.

The government has instituted sanctions through the bedroom tax, which states individuals living in a house with one or more open bedrooms will receive less in housing benefits. Other sanctions have forced disabled people to find work they’re capable of doing and have placed sanctions on working poor through the Universal Credit System.

The Universal Credit System works to provide low-income individuals with monthly working and housing allowances. With the government sanctions, however, these individuals are expected to find jobs, more work hours and attend training meetings. If they do not comply, they are subjected to fines.

Government regulations are crucial in combating food poverty, as the number of people living in food poverty keeps increasing. The average annual household food bill in the U.K is projected to cost £357 more by the end of 2017.

The Sustainable Food Cities and the Church Action on Poverty, both of which are British organizations, pressure the national government, as well as the local governments, communities and companies to take more action. Without government intervention, it seems very unlikely any substantial, long-lasting impact will occur.

Sustainable Food Cities incorporated its campaign “Beyond the Food Bank” to call on governments for action. The program insists that there should be conversations regarding wages, healthy food options and vouchers.

While these organizations continue to pressure the government, many charities are directly impacting the lives of those in food poverty.

Maintaining the belief that all children should have a healthy and sustainable breakfast, Kellogg’s is donating “15 million portions of cereal and snacks” to food impoverished people in the U.K. through different programs and food banks. In doing so, Kellogg’s aims to reduce the statistic that “four out of five teachers say some of their pupils are coming to school hungry.”

Kellogg’s is also responsible for partnering with large companies such as Trussell Trust to strategize ways of reducing hunger in the United Kingdom. As a team, Kellogg’s supplies cereal and healthy breakfast options to Trussell food banks, which distribute the food to individuals with vouchers.

Between 2015 and 2016, Trussell distributed 1,109,309 three-day emergency food supplies, which is 196,171 more supplies than distributed between 2013 and 2014. According to Trussell Trust chairman Christ Mould, “Every day we’re meeting mothers who are skipping meals to feed their children, or people forced to choose between paying the bills or buying food.”

In an interview with Emily Dugan, spokesperson for the End Hunger Fast and Mansfield priest Keith Hebden said, “I have never before seen religious leaders so united on an issue and I hope our collective words and prayers reach the ears of politicians who have the power to act.” With non-profit organizations, corporations and religious groups united in the cause, many hope their work and call for government action will make hunger in the United Kingdom an issue of the past.

Kristen Guyler

Photo: Flickr