Fifteen years ago, The Global FoodBanking Network was created to ensure that people around the world have access to food. The mission was simple: launch, strengthen, and sustain a global network of local food banks to support communities when they need it most. This mission still guides us today.
Innovate to Alleviate celebrates our 15th anniversary by highlighting 15 unique innovations—game-changing approaches and adaptations from GFN and member food banks that make hunger alleviation efforts more efficient, effective, and inclusive. Kicking off on International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste and concluding on World Food Day, this campaign demonstrates how food banks are an important component to solving hunger that are rooted in the communities they serve and essential to resilient food systems.
Food banks are powerful because they can assess and then address the most pressing needs of their community members in real time. One of the most urgent of these concerns is child hunger. Poor nutrition can irreversibly jeopardize the health and development of young children and impact their physical and cognitive wellbeing well into adolescence and adulthood. Food banks have played an important role in innovatively addressing this life-threatening issue through school-based feeding programs. Many children around the world receive their main meal of the day through a school feeding program. In addition to alleviating hunger, these programs have a secondary benefit: They help increase attendance and support academic achievement—especially for girls. In 2020, 38 GFN partner food banks from all over the world offered child hunger programs like free breakfast and lunch, take-home food to cover weekends and school breaks, and nutrition education. Thanks in part to these programs, 17.6 million children received meals from Network food banks last year—an enormous feat in incredibly challenging times. Foodbank Western Australia’s (Foodbank WA) school feeding programs demonstrate an innovative approach to tackling child hunger that provides not only meals but also hands-on nutrition education to economically disadvantaged, Indigenous, and other vulnerable groups across Western Australia. Foodbank WA offers a variety of programs, including:
- School breakfasts served in 475 schools across Western Australia.
- A school fruit van, which provides 75 metropolitan schools each with 10 kilograms of fresh fruit on a weekly basis.
- The Food Sensations® program, which offers nutrition education and cooking classes in schools across Western Australia. The sessions start with age-appropriate nutrition education activities before students learn, hands-on, how to cook a range of nutritious and delicious meals to eat with their families.
- Fuel Your Youth, a program for teenagers that gives them the skills and knowledge to make healthy food choices and improve their cooking skills.
- Superhero Foods®, which is a curriculum teachers and parents can use to teach children about healthy eating through whimsical characters.
- Food Sensations for Parents®, a five-week course of nutrition education and cooking classes for parents of children 0 to 5 years that gives them the skills and knowledge to make meals easier and healthier.