Fifteen years ago, Bancos de Alimentos de México, Feeding America, Food Banks Canada, and Red Argentina de Bancos de Alimentos created The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) to power a local approach to improving food access. Their goal: Create a thriving network of food banks around the world, supported by GFN, which would build capacity, scale operations and services, extend geographic reach, rescue surplus food, provide meals and, ultimately, serve people facing hunger worldwide.
Today, this food bank Network thrives; however, visionary community leaders have spurred innovations that make the food banks in the Network more effective, efficient, and resilient. These leaders truly innovate to alleviate hunger in their communities.
This annual report celebrates our 15th anniversary by highlighting many innovations introduced by GFN and Network food banks. And it reviews our work from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.
Just two years ago, GFN launched a new strategic plan that updated our mission—to nourish the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks—and committed to supporting local food banks to serve 50 million people facing hunger by 2030. This work has become all the more urgent amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened hunger needs that have followed. Indeed, this past year, approximately 40 million people relied on a GFN partner food bank, an increase of 132 percent over the previous year.
Our work is made possible only through the generous support of donors and partners like you. On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, thank you for your commitment to advancing hunger relief and building community resilience on a global scale. You make it possible for us to innovate to alleviate.
With best regards,
President & CEO
To nourish the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks.
A world free of hunger.
Throughout GFN’s history, each year of work has been impactful in terms of hunger alleviation. However, FY2021 stands out as our Network was called to meet unimaginable needs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This past year has demonstrated that there is no question: Food banks are indispensable in the fight against hunger.
Our work necessitates innovation. GFN and the food banks we support are constantly seeking increased impact and efficiency; every day, we’re in a race toward a hunger-free future.
Prior to COVID-19, food banks were steadily expanding across developing and emerging markets worldwide with the support of GFN. As community-led institutions that rely on local resources and capacity to address hunger and build resiliency, the growth of food banks in the last 15 years signifies more than an increase in food aid. Food banks serve as a bridge for government, private, and nonprofit sectors while offering solutions that reflect a community’s unique needs.
Food banks delivered crucial support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, serving 40 million people in 2020, an increase of 132 percent over the previous year. To meet rising demand related to the pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, GFN partner food banks are serving an average of nearly 200,000 more people monthly than prior to COVID-19.
Despite staggering challenges to the supply chain and regular distribution models due to COVID-19, food banks sourced more food than ever before. Food banks navigated these challenges with agility and tenacity, developing creative strategies and distributing 882 million kilograms of food and grocery products, an equivalent of 2.4 billion meals to families facing hunger.
Food banks power locally led partners to address immediate, short-, and long-term needs in their communities. In 2020, these partnerships made up a network of over 59,000 community service organizations that embrace the responsibility of feeding their communities. Partners include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, daycares, afterschool programs, and many other organizations.
*In the charts above, data is collected in the previous calendar year and reported at the end of each fiscal year.
Innovation is a core value for GFN. Below we share 15 of the most notable food banking innovations from our 15-year history. These innovations have been game-changers in the fight to address hunger. These 15 innovations have enabled GFN and the food banking movement to make positive social gains that are sustainable at scale while increasing our reach and closing the hunger gap. These innovations are transformational, inclusive, and empowering.
With each innovation, we’re gaining momentum. With each innovation, we’re advancing our mission.
Since 2006, The Global FoodBanking Network has supported community-driven solutions to alleviate hunger. Food banks directed by local leaders are unique as they emerge from their community and thus are well-placed to respond to that community's distinctive needs. And they’re critical for functional, resilient food systems and key to achieving Zero Hunger.Learn more about why food banks are a community-based innovation for hunger response.
Nearly one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Rather than reaching the estimated 768 million people facing hunger around the world, that food is thrown away and decomposes, contributing 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. What if there was a way to connect this edible surplus with people facing hunger? Enter: food banks.Learn more about how food banks are an innovative, green solution for addressing hunger.
Support a food bank, support an entire community. Beyond alleviating hunger and mitigating food loss and waste, food banks serve as a pillar of civil society. They build coalitions and strengthen broader social services in their communities. They provide vital, budget-relieving support to thousands of local organizations such as orphanages, schools, daycares, hospitals, and homeless shelters. They fill gaps in existing public sector social safety nets.Learn more about how food banks serve as the nucleus of community activity and bring grassroots decision-making to food security efforts.
Powering Communities to Alleviate Hunger
Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Strengthening Civil Society
Though GFN began operations primarily as a certifier of existing food banks, our visionary leaders quickly pivoted to asking the question: Are there communities where no food banks exist but conditions are ripe for this model to thrive? We identified South Africa as a good candidate and following several years of work in partnership with local leaders, community members, government officials, and private sector actors, FoodForward South Africa was launched in 2009.Learn more about this multiyear, multisector approach to building a community-based network of food banks.
In 2007, GFN established the Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) to create a space for food bankers and partners from across the globe to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. What began in San Antonio, Texas, with 23 attendees from nine countries, has grown to the largest global gathering of food bankers. Amid the pandemic, FBLI went virtual, engaging a diverse audience of nearly 2,500 attendees from 92 countries.Learn more about how FBLI convenes local food systems leaders, stakeholders, and experts worldwide.
In 2019, GFN launched incubator programs to accelerate the development of young food banks and promote the model in emerging and developing markets, specifically in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where food insecurity is especially acute. Through the four-year Food Bank Incubator Program, we offer expanded technical support, mentoring, partnership opportunities, and other services to boost the impact of new food banks in high-need areas.Learn more about how this innovation spurred the incredible growth and response of food banks in the Southeast Asia and Africa Incubator Programs.
Scoping and Launching a Food Bank
Creating the Global Food Banking Movement
Guiding New Food Banks
The term “food bank” might conjure images of warehouses, trucks, and pallets of boxed or canned food, but food banks use innovative and multifaceted methods to get surplus food to people facing hunger. Dozens of food banks worldwide have adapted technology to facilitate their work in a cost-effective way. For example, in the United Kingdom, a virtual food banking model makes it easy for community organizations to receive daily food donations from local retailers.Learn more about how an app is connecting thousands of community service organizations with thousands of grocery retailers across the UK and creatively reducing food loss and waste and addressing hunger.
And food banks aren’t providers of only canned and boxed foods. When farmers, ranchers, and fishers partner with food banks, they help increase access to nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. In fact, today, 11 percent of products distributed by GFN member food banks come from the agricultural sector.Learn how an innovative partnership approach has enabled food banks like Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia to recover more than 29 million kilograms of fruits and vegetables from 993 agricultural partners, serving as an example for GFN member food banks across Latin America.
A major driver of food waste along the global food production supply chain takes place at the retail and consumer levels. Recognizing this, some food banks have developed a creative approach to food sourcing that recovers prepared foods from hospitality and food service partners, once again minimizing waste while providing food to those who need it.Learn more about the incredible national scale of Leket Israel’s food rescue program, which includes a network of 300 agricultural and food service rescue partners and six distribution hubs across the country.
While food banks excel in food storage, packaging, and delivery, some have taken a step further by producing their own food, especially in situations where they can provide a cultural staple or make use of surplus produce.Learn more about Alimento Para Todos, a member of Bancos de Alimentos de México, which launched a tortilla shop, creatively marrying their goals to reduce food waste and address food insecurity.
Leveraging Technology to Enhance Impact
Collaborating to Increase Access to Fresh Food
Sourcing Prepared Foods
Producing Fresh Foods
Food banks assess and then address the most pressing needs of their community members, and in many areas, child food insecurity, which has serious effects on the health and development of young children, is among the most urgent concerns. To tackle child hunger, food banks design programs that provide food and other services to children, adolescents, and mothers facing food insecurity.Learn more about Foodbank of Western Australia’s Healthy Food for All program, which incorporates healthy lifestyle initiatives into core food banking business, targeting youth in low socioeconomic and vulnerable areas.
Recognizing that nutrition education can change the outlook of a community’s health and resilience, some food banks have expanded their role beyond food distribution by providing programs from healthy living workshops to cooking classes to gardening sessions.Learn more about how the robust nutrition education program run by Mesa Brasil - SESC has increased the consumption of healthy, diverse, and seasonal foods, reduced food waste, and boosted food literacy, helping people live healthier lives.
A priority for all food banks is to ensure that people can access food easily while also maintaining their dignity. Food banks have adopted many different approaches to make this possible, but the Korea Foodbank’s Food Markets stands out among them.Learn more about this innovative model of food assistance that promotes dignity and food sovereignty by offering economically disadvantaged families and individuals the ability to choose from locally sourced foods and a variety of household products once every month.
Food banks can quickly adapt to changing circumstances, so they are a vital resource during emergencies and disasters. From volcanic eruptions to floods to earthquakes, Rise Against Hunger Philippines (RAHP) is an experienced emergency responder and demonstrates how food banks can use their existing supply chains and logistics infrastructure to quickly deliver fresh produce, grocery items, household supplies, and hygiene kits to communities amid crises.Learn more about how food banks serve as frontline emergency responders.
Because food banks are guided by local leaders, they are strongly positioned to reach groups that can be excluded from economic participation, government support, and social services.Learn more about the innovative ways food banks partner with community organizations to serve populations particularly vulnerable to hunger, including refugees and internally displaced persons, groups of Indigenous peoples, informal workers, rural and geographically isolated communities, and women and girls.
Addressing Child Hunger
Integrating Nutrition Education
Distributing Food with Dignity
Responding to Emergencies
Reaching Vulnerable Populations
Starting prior to the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, GFN and food banks were on the front lines of the crisis. Embedded in communities, food banks are a vital infrastructure for emergency response. At no time in history was this more evident than over the past year.
Collaborative innovation across our Network has boosted relief and recovery efforts amid this pandemic. Innovations around food sourcing, outreach, distribution, and more have arisen out of the urgent needs generated by COVID-19 and have offered all of us an opportunity to reorient our work and sector toward resiliency.
Just two years ago, GFN launched a strategic plan to guide our work from FY2020 through FY2022. At that time, we set an ambitious North Star goal:
With one year remaining in our current strategic plan, we’ve reached the 40 million mark. COVID-19 dramatically increased hunger, making food banks all the more critical, while putting 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger nearly out of reach.
But for GFN, our drive toward our mission is only heightened by this dramatic turn of events. We are committed to reaching our goal set two years ago, and to doing our part to help the global community achieve SDG 2 by focusing on acceleration, impact, and scale in our quest to transform communities.
In the coming year, we’ll build our FY2023-FY2026 strategic plan which, we know, will focus on the key role food banks play in strengthening civil society globally and building resilient communities and stronger, more equitable food systems. As has been true throughout our 15-year history, innovation will be key. We will continue to foster locally grown, community-driven innovative solutions to hunger, and we will pool innovations globally. We know there are untapped opportunities out there—we’ll seek to harness those innovations yet to come, and continue to nourish the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks.
Hunger is a solvable problem. Please join us to innovate to alleviate.
We close FY2021 in good financial health. Our organization received an unqualified opinion on our annual audit. Please find the following information on how we are stewarding donor investments to advance global hunger relief through food banking. Information is drawn from our Audited Financials for the years FY2019, FY2020, and FY2021, which are available at foodbanking.org.
FY2019-FY2021 Functional Expenses
FY2021 Functional Expenses