Advancing Food Banks

GFN’s Certification Program Helps Food Banks Grow and Advance

At The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), we’re dedicated to helping food banks advance their own goals and objectives so they can ultimately connect their communities to more nutritious food. Sometimes we do this through technical assistance or product sourcing support. Other times, we might provide financing to help food banks improve operations and efficiencies.

Another tool we use to advance the work of food banks is our certification process. A GFN Certified Food Banking Organization demonstrates that it’s accountable to donors, community organizations, government entities, and especially to the people they serve. And once certified, food banks can use their certification status to create opportunities that might not otherwise be available.

As a prerequisite for starting the process, food banks must have been in operation for at least two years, so there’s a history of service to the community, and food bank employees must complete an e-learning course that outlines the overall process and standards. Then, a member of our field services team visits the food bank in person for a week to conduct the audit.

During the in-person audit visit, we work with the food bank to assess areas like governance, product traceability, financial accountability, compliance with national legal requirements and international standards, and other best practices. And we conduct a full warehouse and vehicle inspection.

After two years, certified food banks can go through a recertification process to renew their status.

Food banks that we’ve certified tell us that completing the process provides credibility to donors and other partners. This is especially true for newer food banks or in regions of the world where the food banking model isn’t yet well known.

“I think it can help add a bit of scale, to be able to say, ‘We are part of an international community,’” said Anthony Kitchen, senior director of knowledge sharing and field services at GFN. “It can open a lot of doors when you say, ‘This international food banking network validated our work.’”

More established food banks have also found value in the certification process, in not only the added credibility it brings but also the opportunities for continued learning, reevaluation of processes, and extension of connections.

A few GFN partners shared their thoughts on the certification process and the benefits it brings to their organizations:

Elijah Amoo Addo, executive director of Food for All Africa (Ghana): “GFN certification is a testament to our unwavering dedication to upholding global standards and best practices in our mission to serve vulnerable communities with recovered food. At Food for All Africa, attaining the GFN certification bolsters our endeavors by providing concrete evidence of our steadfast commitment to reducing food waste and alleviating hunger in Ghana. It serves as a powerful tool in persuading partners and stakeholders to join us in our noble cause.”

Brianna Casey, CEO of Foodbank Australia: “As the only Australian food relief organization to be an accredited member of The Global FoodBanking Network, Foodbank Australia supports the rigorous re-certification process every two years whereby our food banking operations, legislative compliance, programs, and reporting processes are assessed.

“As a GFN member, we benefit from shared learning and peer support, including opportunities to learn from other food banks across the globe how they are responding to and being impacted by issues such the cost-of-living crisis.”

Siti Suci Larasati, founder and CEO of Aksata Pangan (Indonesia): “It’s so amazing to know that there is an organization that can help food banks all over the world, with specific technical assistance, financial [support], and other things that can help the food bank to grow.

“It’s fantastic because Aksata Pangan is just starting the journey [to become a] certified member of GFN. And each stage will be such an amazing experience to each of us on the Aksata Pangan team, as we learn about what we need to do and the skills we need to improve.”

Michael Sunbola, founder of Lagos Food Bank Initiative (Nigeria): “Our food bank needs GFN certification because it will boost our organization’s reputation and recognition. The certification will show that we are part of a global network dedicated to alleviating food insecurity and supporting sustainable solutions. This will help us attract new donors and partners, allowing us to increase our reach and effect.

“Furthermore, the certification will provide us with the essential validation to demonstrate that we are adhering to the highest standards in our efforts to battle hunger and malnutrition, and by continuous adherence to the certification requirements, we can improve our efficiency in curbing hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria.”

Running a food bank is no small task—and GFN makes sure local food bank leaders don’t have to face complex challenges alone. Our certification process is just one way we work with food banks to help them improve every element of their operations based on their unique needs and priorities.

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