CHICAGO, USA, Aug 08 (IPS) — The writer is President & CEO, The Global Food Banking NetworkWith the ongoing global food crisis—triggered by the COVID pandemic, disasters, supply chain disruptions, and conflict in Ukraine—food security should be at the top of the G20 agenda when countries gather in India in September 2023.
Food banks are already present in every G20 market, providing nutritious meals to people who need them most. They often complement the work of governments to get food to people who are underfed or undernourished. And they can reach those who are often left out of other forms of social protection. Food bankers are embedded in their communities and can respond quickly when disasters strike. Last year, members of The Global FoodBanking Network in nearly 50 countries helped feed 32 million people, distributing more than 650 million kilograms of food and groceries and mitigating 1.5 billion kilograms of CO2e through avoided food loss and waste. Many of these countries faced civil unrest and disasters caused by climate change and conflict. India is already setting a strong example in mobilizing food banks as part of its efforts to address food waste. Having implemented Surplus Food Regulations in 2019 to ensure unused food could be donated, India saw a 250 percent increase in the volume of food distributed through food banks last year compared to pre-pandemic levels. The food banks No Food Waste, India FoodBanking Network and Feeding India provided 13.5 million kilograms of food to 6.4 million people in 2022. These food banks provide nutrition to school children, migrant workers and other vulnerable populations. With supportive government policies and financing, these efforts have the potential to expand rapidly in the coming years. A growing number of G20 countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia, are also adopting food banks to strengthen their food security and reduce hunger. Last year, Brazil’s national network of nearly 100 food banks served 2.5 million people in the country. And food banks in Indonesia provided food to about 1.2 million people in 2022, an increase of nearly 40 percent compared to 2021. By working with food producers, retailers and farmers, food banks bridge public and private sectors, providing a vital service that complements social welfare programs and helps minimize food waste and the associated emissions, contributing to multiple human development goals. When G20 leaders come to the table to discuss the urgency of food security, they will look for solutions that are already available and have proven track records. India has already made it clear that food security is a priority for its G20 presidency. The government now has the opportunity to leverage its experiences and insights to build effective collaboration among countries on this issue. By developing comprehensive food security strategies, G20 countries can make a sound investment to create a stronger future.
IPS UN Bureau