A message from the CEO

President’s Update | One year into the COVID-19 crisis

Dear Partner, More than a year ago, The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) convened our first COVID-19 emergency working group. That group gathered to understand the COVID-19 response in Asia and to share learnings from our food bank partners in the region with others around the world. Following that meeting, we made our first COVID-19 emergency grants to three food bank partners. Those grants—to Feeding Hong Kong, The Food Bank Singapore ltd., and Korea Foodbank—marked the beginning of a year none of us could have imagined. Those first three grants were followed by many, many more. Indeed, over the past 12 months, GFN has proudly stood alongside our food bank partners by supporting the activities of over 50 organizations in 50 countries with almost 200 emergency grants. These grants have provided unrestricted support, covering the costs of food, PPE, and equipment purchase; additional warehouse and storage space rental; revised program and distribution models; and so much more. But financial assistance is only one part of the story. While GFN’s food bank partners have provided an unimaginable level of service to their communities—demonstrating that they are truly essential, front line workers—GFN has humbly stood beside them, poised to assist in whatever way we could. To share knowledge and ideas, to pass along suggestions from other regions, to simply be a listening and supportive ear, to ease their tremendous burdens ever-so-slightly. This new video offers a snapshot of the response by GFN’s partner food banks over the past year. The full impact of COVID-19 across the Network continues to play out in real time; however, as stated in the video, the hunger crisis continues. We will be sharing more data and analysis from the surveys of the food banks in the Network in the coming month. But even without the hard numbers, a few findings are already eminently clear:
  1. Functional, resilient, responsive food systems need food banks. When crises hit, food banks are embedded in their communities, so they are well-placed to understand the needs of the women, men, and children, they are poised to take action, and they are already set up to deliver rapidly. 
  2. Food banks are both nimble first responders and committed to long-term recovery. Food banks might not be usually in the business of emergency food response, but this year demonstrated that when those emergency systems fail, they provide an essential lifeline. 
  3. Food banks are sophisticated operations, but capable of creative pivots. Food bank operations include product partnerships, warehouses, refrigeration supply trucks, and multiple service partners, but when there is a break in their supply chain, the machinery doesn’t ground to a halt. They shift, they innovate, and they do whatever is needed, quickly, to get food to people facing hunger.
This is just a small taste of what GFN has proudly observed over the course of the past year as food bank partner after food bank partner reported unthinkable disasters, and unimaginable response. From where I sit, in my home office in Chicago, it feels like the tide is slowly turning. However, this is not true in so many of the countries where GFN is working. Too many countries are experiencing new waves of infection and lockdown, too few countries have access to vaccines, and far too many food banks are still in emergency response mode. GFN continues to support their efforts, one year later, with grants, and knowledge, and compassion. We hope you will join us as we stand alongside these leaders who have ushered their communities through this truly unimaginable year. With thanks for your continued support, Lisa Moon President & CEO The Global FoodBanking Network