Enhancing Nutrition

Access to safe and healthy foods helps build healthy, thriving communities. We’re helping food banks expand the accessibility and variety of nutritious foods they offer.

Food banks prioritize healthy food, nutrition education, and culturally appropriate food choices.

A nutritious diet is pivotal for good health. It supports growth, productivity, and wellness, and it reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. However, knowing what comprises a healthy diet is only part of the story—accessing and purchasing this food is another. In fact, healthy diets are unaffordable for more than 3 billion people worldwide (FAO). And for many, the nearest store or market with fresh, healthy foods may be out of geographic reach.

As champions of SDG2: Zero Hunger, food banks play a critical role in ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition for all people by 2030. They also understand that a plate of healthy food may look different from one community to the next. Food banks are experts in recovery and distribution and understand the local contexts of their communities, so they serve as a bridge between dignified access to sufficient calories and healthy, culturally relevant diets.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Eradicating hunger requires action that addresses availability, access, utilization, and stability.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

How are GFN members increasing access to healthy foods?

Food banks strive to diversify the nutritious products they distribute to their communities. But their role in nutrition goes beyond offering product diversity; it also includes promoting healthy dietary choices through nutrition education and adhering to the highest food safety standards.

Here are just a few ways that GFN member food banks are addressing nutrition:

  • Agricultural recovery programs source fresh, local produce from farms
  • On-staff nutritionists advise and implement nutrition policies and programs
  • Nutrition education programs include workshops and cooking classes
  • Infrastructure investments, like cold storage, make it possible to recover and store more fresh foods
  • Food safety standards guide food banks’ operations
  • School meal programs provide consistent access to food for children during critical stages of growth and development

Foodbank Western Australia’s Hands-on Nutrition Approach

Foodbank Western Australia’s school feeding programs demonstrate an innovative approach to tackling child hunger by providing meals, as well as hands-on nutrition education to children in vulnerable situations across the region. The programs include school breakfasts, nutrition education, and cooking classes.

How does GFN support food banks’ nutrition programs?

As more food banks establish or expand their nutrition policies, we’re investing in this area of our work, too. We provide both global and regional nutrition resources that are customized for local contexts; for example:

  • Helping food banks increase the proportion of culturally appropriate fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, proteins, and dairy.
  • Conducting research that tracks GFN members’ product diversity proportions.
  • Providing customized technical assistance and grants to support food bank child hunger programs.
  • Partnering with organizations, like the World Union of Wholesale Markets, that encourage more donations of fresh produce to food banks.
  • Supporting the establishment and scaling of agricultural recovery programs.
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