A message from the CEO

‘World hunger could double due to COVID-19’ – How are food banks responding?

Dear Partner – As COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the developing world, research from the United Nations University is suggesting that “the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to create a ‘new era’ of poverty, putting decades of progress at risk.” COVID-19 also threatens achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically End Poverty and Zero Hunger. Before the coronavirus, 821 million people around the globe were considered food insecure. In just a few months, according to Bloomberg, that number could more than double. The news is overwhelming, and it’s just the beginning. Once the worst of the pandemic is over, middle- and low-income countries will need significant supports to stabilize and rebuild. More than half of the food banks GFN serves are in Latin America, where necessary measures to contain the virus are having devastating effects on low-income families.  GFN is technically and financially supporting relief in all countries where we have members.  The Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia (ABACO), a national network of food banks in Colombia, is projecting an increase in need by 750,000 people facing hunger and projecting a funding shortfall of 26 to 50%. More than half of all employed Colombians work informally, and with the country on lockdown, these people are uniquely vulnerable to the economic and health impacts. Bancos de Alimentos de Mexico (BAMX), the national food banking association in Mexico, is reporting an estimated 51-60% increase in demand for emergency food assistance. An urgent need is food and transportation support; a BAMX representative shared, “Perishable food donations are increasing and we have no funds to transport this food to the whole network.” In Asia, fears of a potential second wave of COVID-19 are rising, including in Singapore. Beginning April 7, Singapore entered “circuit breaker” mode, which is what the government is calling its latest measures to stop the spread of the virus. Nichol Ng, Co-Founder of The Food Bank Singapore, gave us a glimpse into the operations of Food Bank Singapore in a recent interview with us, where she shared, “We’ve never had a crisis on this scale before. It’s the Asian currency crisis plus SARS. I have been in constant talks with all the various government agencies including the Ministry of Health. We are finding ourselves answering to more urgent personal calls from needy on the ground and new NGOs that have never reached out before.” Nichol continued, “We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the real need on the ground. I am sincerely concerned about huge unemployment that is going to happen soon and if the country and the world do not rally behind this crisis united, we are going to emerge weaker as a global community. Hunger just like the virus does not discriminate between race, creed or religion.” GFN has mobilized additional support for Asian member food banks as new cases of COVID-19 emerge and governments enforce strict measures. In these unprecedented times, coordination is key to our success and we have teamed up with Feeding America and the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) to call on the private sector, supporters, corporations, foundations, and agri-food donor partners to stand with them in solidarity at this critical time. In a statement published yesterday, we address the need for a coordinated global effort to roll back the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge of food insecurity that comes with it. The food banks we all serve continue to be on the front lines of this global crisis. And we will need this global push to continue to support their enormous and impressive efforts. Thank you for your care and contributions. Please keep visiting our COVID-19 response page and make sure you’re signing up for these regular updates. My best, Lisa Moon President & CEO The Global FoodBanking Network