“Across the U.S., some food banks and rescue groups have moved beyond handing out meals to the needy. In recent years, they’ve started growing the food themselves, turning to full-scale farming to secure fresh vegetables for their food pantry clients. It’s a trend that began decades ago and which experts predict will grow, but since the work isn’t easy — it requires equipment, expertise, donations, and volunteers — they believe it will continue to develop slowly.”
“Currently, there are at least 18 food bank-run farms nationwide. They’ve sprung up in communities like San Antonio, Milwaukee, Hatfield, Massachusetts, and in Fenton, Michigan, about one hour’s drive northwest of Detroit, where the farm that supplies In The Trenches is located. The Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee was given a large farm once operated by a prison in a nearby suburb, while other food banks have been offered farmland by city government or local donors. And yet others, like the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, bought land and made deals with farmers to cultivate it for them to take a share of the annual harvest.”
“An estimated 49 million Americans have limited or uncertain access to enough food to meet their daily needs. Families say they have to stretch benefits they receive to make ends meet, especially after last year’s decision by Congress to let lapse a temporary funding boost to the key government food aid program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). But even before that, low-income Americans said they needed to spend 10 percent more dollars a week in 2012 than in 2011 to give their families three meals a day, according to a recent report by Feeding America, a national hunger relief charity to which many food banks belong.”
“Reginald Bray, a client and volunteer at Detroit’s In The Trenches and a single dad, says he struggles to decide how to spend his limited resources. Last fall, his food stamps were cut due to missing a sign-up deadline. Now he and his three-year old daughter live on his $800 a month disability payment — $400 goes to rent, $175 to utilities. That leaves about $200 a month for everything else, including food. “If we have to make a choice, either put some meat on the table or buy some produce, we would choose the meat. A lot of us would not be getting those fruits and veggies if it wasn’t for this,” said Bray, 46, on a break from helping carry boxes of produce.”
“Bennett, 57, took in her grandkids a few years ago. They live off her $721 in disability (plus another $721 they receive for her grandson who is legally blind), with $650 going to rent and another $600 to utilities and cable. Each month, she stocks up on staples, using most of her $300 in food stamps on 10 boxes of cereal, 10 gallons of milk and two family bundles of meat.”
“The H-E-B/GFN Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) is the flagship event of The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN). Each year, GFN convenes a diverse, international group of social entrepreneurs, global corporate citizens, international food bank leaders and experts in areas related to fighting hunger through food banking.
This year nearly 70 food bankers from over 30 countries came together at FBLI for education, training, best practice sharing … and to connect as a community to advance the cause of global food banking.
The 2014 FBLI was made possible by support from H-E-B, General Mills Foundation, Kellogg Company Fund, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Cargill, Griffith Laboratories, and BBVA Compass. H-E-B, a long-time supporter of food banking in the US and Mexico, has been a key partner in FBLI since its inception in 2007. In addition to generous financial support, H-E-B has been actively engaged in hosting and contributing services.
“GFN plays a pivotal role in developing and harnessing our collective ability and helping all countries and regions optimize their full potential.” – 2014 FBLI Attendee, Greg Warren, Foodbank Australia.”
“With over 850 million people suffering from hunger worldwide we believe food banks are an essential part of the solution for alleviating hunger and improving food security. Through training, sharing of best practices, building relationships with the global food and grocery industry, leveraging our resources, and bringing together a global community, GFN is ensuring more communities are using the powerful solution of food banking to feed the hungry.”
“GFN is dedicated to helping existing food bank systems broaden their operations, increase impact, and deliver more food to more hungry people. To do this GFN establishes and maintains strong partnerships with the global grocery products industry, the broader NGO community, global philanthropic resources, and others focused on reducing hunger and improving nutrition. We leverage these partnerships to deliver resources that expand the reach and improve the effectiveness of existing food bank systems.
In these projects, GFN provides more limited project management, supporting efforts to bring scale to food banks or food bank networks, new or more established. The goal of these projects is to expand the resources available to food banks in order to allow them to reach more hungry people.
In a typical Capacity Building Project, GFN provides training materials to bolster the food bank’s knowledge and gives advice drawing on our expertise in food banking. GFN staff members may occasionally participate in various meetings and planning discussions remotely. The Network Development Team may also make visits to assist with key deliberations and/or meetings as needed. In-country champions and key leaders of the food bank systems are also encouraged to attend the Food Bank Leadership Institute to equip them with the necessary knowledge to assist with GFN’s work in their country.”
“GFN is involved in a number of projects aimed at creating food banks where they do not exist. GFN works within a country to introduce the food banking concept to key leaders in all three sectors (public, private, and civil society), conduct a feasibility analysis, convene a broad based planning forum, and build a business plan and resource development strategy to launch food bank operations.
GFN participates in New Food Bank Creation projects in 3 different ways: working as the primary initiator, working with an in-country champion, and working alongside another NGO in order to build new food banks.
In those situations where GFN is the primary initiator of the creation of a food bank, we are on the ground to oversee the development process, and provides the knowledge, experience, and expertise for successful outcomes both in person and remotely.
When GFN works with an in-country champion, which can be an existing coalition of NGOs, government entities, or private citizens, it provides more limited project management, supporting efforts to create a new food bank system rather than driving the process itself.
As GFN grows and expands, our members often field requests for assistance from neighboring countries. When our members work to bring food banks to new countries, GFN is often called on to provide advice, training materials and experience to help facilitate the creation of a new food bank.
In all projects, new food bank operations are managed and owned by local leadership, and receive ongoing support from GFN after the food bank system begins operations.”
Maybe one question has to be asked:
“If Governements and recipients get “hooked” on food banks subsidies, where are the paths and incentives for “self-sufficient”, “autonomous” life styles recovery????;+)
Dependency of any kind, on any kind of product and/or service, is very addictive and very difficult to resolve…..;+)
It is often easier to fill that empty stomach, that to teach effectively how to catch that fish, or to grow that vegetable, figuratively, or not, and become self-sufficient, for that matter……….;+)
Is it the recognition that some people will never be able to be “self-sufficient”, either by “fate”, and/or “DNA”, defeating, in fact, the Western motto that “nurture” will always preemt “nature”…..?????? ;+)
But, as Rudyard Kipling used to say, “this is another story”………..;+)