A Look Back at GFN’s Strategic Plan (Part IV): Partnering to Address Root Causes

This piece is part of a series that examines the impact of our current strategic plan over the last three years. Read Part I: Finding Certainty in Uncertain Times, Part II: Expanding Food Relief, and Part III: Strengthening Food Banks. Food banks exist to both alleviate hunger and reduce food loss and waste in the communities where they’re located. This dual mission unfolds on a daily basis through the recovery of safe surplus food, which is distributed to people facing hunger. Through this work, food banks have a unique perspective on the root causes of these systemic problems. The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) ensures that perspective is recognized and included in partnerships that advance hunger alleviation and food loss and waste reduction. The third objective of GFN’s 2019-2022 strategic plan encapsulated that goal. “Ultimately, these are multifaceted challenges, and we cannot solve them alone,” said Lisa Moon, GFN president and CEO. “We have to engage partners on these issues while also representing and sharing the voice of the food banks we’re serving. We can’t succeed in our vision without strong partnerships.” GFN met this objective of the strategic plan in several ways, by:
  • Documenting the efficacy of the food banking movement globally. Food banks all over the world contribute to progress on Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 12.3. The State of Global Food Banking was the first series of studies to quantify that global impact. The State of Global Food Banking is a research partnership between GFN, European Food Banks Federation (FEBA), and Feeding America—the three largest food banking networks in the world.
  • Convening food systems experts. GFN’s Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) began as a formal platform to connect food bankers so they could learn from each other. While that continued under this strategic plan, FBLI also expanded to include food systems experts from outside food banking spaces. In 2019, FBLI met in London, with speakers including World Food Prize Laureate Lawrence Haddad and Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. While FBLI was forced to move to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it continued to connect food bankers with other food systems experts, like UN Secretary-General Special Envoy Agnes Kalibata and renowned agricultural economist and policy expert Shenggen Fan, who later joined GFN’s Board of Directors.
  • Mobilizing nongovernmental organization and private sector partners. In the last several years, GFN and member food banks have co-led or supported partnerships that reduce food loss and waste and its environmental impact. These partnerships include The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas research partnership with Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and several voluntary agreements, which bring together businesses, governments, nonprofits, and other groups to reduce the root causes of food loss and waste. Additionally, GFN grew staff capacity to respond to the increasing number of global companies looking for a partner that can aid in recovering surplus food that would otherwise be lost or wasted.
These partnerships built during the 19-22 strategic plan move the crucial work of food banks forward—and the upcoming strategic plan will continue to build on those successes. “Food banking is vital to food systems—which are global systems,” said Moon. “And GFN represents a large global Network that has much to contribute to conversations and actions that address hunger and climate change.”  

“A Look Back at GFN’s Strategic Plan” is a series that examines the impact of our current strategic plan over the last three years.