Food bank is the non-profit organisation that distributes food to those who are unable to purchase when affecting from natural disaster, weak physical and mental condition, bankrupt, and orphan. There are varieties of food bank models run by charity organisations, community, and churches as well as private individuals. John van Hengel founded first food bank in 1967 in Arizona, US. The Global Food Banking Network is an umbrella organisation of food bank network and over 25 countries have already joined the network. Since the financial crisis since 2007 popularity of food bank has been gained. The fact is food production is getting insufficient to meet day to day demand. People normally need 2,124 calories Intake per day. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in the world it is estimated that about worth of $1 trillion food gets lost or waste in production and consumption systems, more than 840 million people do not have enough food to eat. The World Environment Day 2013 was celebrated under the theme “Think, Eat and Save”. Now, it is time to analyse why food bank is important to increase food life and supply.
According to the United Nations, global population would be about 9.5 billion by 2075 meaning there could be an extra three billion people to feed by the end of the century. Farmland has been either fragmented or been globally encroached due to big projects like construction of infrastructures, housing and other development works. It is estimated that about two billion tonnes out of four billion metric tonnes food has not been reached to plates yet because of poor harvesting, storage and transportation, including market and consumer wastage. Nearly 870 million people in the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. In South Asia, there were 330 million accounting for 40 percent of the world‘s undernourished. Over 850,000 Canadians needed help from a food bank each month and there were 50 million Americans struggling with food insecurity in 2012. In May 2013, it was estimated that more than 500,000 people in the UK were supported by food aid.
Food waste is account 56 percent in developed countries and 44 percent in developing countries. Food waste is a problem of developing countries due to their inefficient farming, inadequate transportation, poor infrastructure, lack of preservation, and proper supply chain. That means food productions are frequently handled and stored inappropriately. Since developed countries have used more-efficient Technology and food security system but due to ‘showing off’ characteristics of modern consumer and ‘big sells and bonus’ culture of multinational retailers, huge amount of productions are often wasted through large purchase. Retailers encourage customers to purchase excessive quantities e.g. offers kind of like buy two get one free. Likewise the UK households waste around 20% of all the food they buy. Each year the US households, retailers and food services waste approximately 40 million tonnes of food. It is estimated that a third of the world’s entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste if there is proper storage and distribution network.
The statistics show that Nepal can face annual food deficit of 300 to 500 thousand metric tons. From urban cities in Nepal waste 512,000 tons food every year that is absolutely edible. Also it has been confirmed that ‘‘a minimum of 40 percent of food is wasted during parties and celeberations’’. So Nepal has proposed to establish South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) level Food Bank to minimise the problem of food scarcity and the SAARC Food Bank established in April 2007 in regional level, which was authorised to start functioning with a total reserve of 0.24 million tons food grains. But The bank does not sound effective.
Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank says “The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful as millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night” The Guardian has reported that Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institute of Mechanical Engineer, said: “It is also an unnecessary waste of the land, water and energy resources that were used in the production, processing and distribution of wasted food.”
Food bank is the best practice to control waste. Food banks work through innovations. Let’s take an example here; British Retail Consortium (BRC) has reached on mutual agreement to reduce food waste. As a result, retailers reduced waste amount they sent to landfill sites to 6% in 2013 compared with 47% in 2005. They are now committed only 1% waste by 2020. BRC is planning to mobilise foods before getting expiry by establishing more and more food banks not only in charity level but also in big business network. Also, according to Unilever Food Solution, Wise Up On Waste is a new app for Android and Apple users kitchen professional to conveniently monitor and track food waste. The app helps to identify when and where most food waste has been generated especially from big hotels chain. John van Hengel father of food bank says ‘‘It’s amazing how many people are being fed because of this (food bank) crazy little things we started’’.
In criticism of food bank professor Janet Poppendieck says in her book Free For All ‘‘Hunger is the enemy of education’’ and warns that the rise of food banks can contribute to a long term erosion of human rights and support for entitlements. Olivier De Schutter, a senior United Nations official, has cautioned Europe against allowing food banks to become a permanent partial replacement for welfare provision, as is the case in the U.S. and Canada.
By considering wide future for all, food banks in every country would be a milestone. The rise of food banks has been broadly welcomed in regards to control price and to increase food supply. People who are in need also be able to receive food from charity network of food bank. So Food bank is an urgent need for the future to get balance between demand and supply in the food market. Countries like Nepal can even do their best to increase early school enrolment by providing food generated from food bank to serve to children who are hungry. So food banks need to be established not only for charity work but also in massive business sector. Collective global effort is needed in massive institutional level to increase food life and its supply. It is important that government, producers, chefs, press and public sectors must work together for the sake of food security.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (2010, 2011, 2012)