In 2005, a group of food bank leaders from Canada, Mexico, and the United States met to talk about a global vision for food banking. The idea to share models of successful food banks with the world – to help start new programs and support existing ones – turned into what is now The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN).
One in nine people in the world is chronically hungry, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. At the same time, 1.3 billion tons of food (about one-third of all food produced for human consumption) is lost or wasted every year. Food banking aims to tackle these two overwhelming statistics with one bite.
GFN supports 750 food banks that provide food for the hungry and reduce food waste in 34 countries. The Network provides resources, program models, education, grant funding and certification to local, regional and national food bank programs.
In October of 2015, GFN pledged to certify 10 food banks in 10 countries in honor of its 10-year anniversary.
The work of GFN helps nations meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a set of targets that U.N. member countries must use to shape policy as they develop and plan for the future. Two of the seventeen goals relate directly to food banking efforts: Goal 2: Zero Hunger, and Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
In May of 2015, GFN member organization Feeding Hong Kong (FHK) organized a food drive that provided an estimated 44,324 meals to residents in Hong Kong’s poorest neighborhoods. According to FHK’s Executive Director Gabriel Kirstein, there are many advantages to belonging to a global food banking network. “Membership is like a seal of approval and reassures donors of our credibility,” she says.
GFN recently welcomed mainland China’s very first food bank into its network. Shanghai’s Green Food Bank opened in part because of the inspiration founder Eve Li took from GFN’s annual Food Banking Leadership Institute. “I think I’ve learned a lot from this conference,” said Li in a GFN video. “I have a plan to build a food bank immediately after I come back to China.”