Food Banks Surge to Meet Demand as COVID-19 Leaves Communities Reeling

As millions lose jobs and hunger rises, The Global FoodBanking Network is coordinating technical and financial assistance to its member food banks in 43 countries.

Chicago, IL (April 9, 2020) – The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), a nonprofit with a mission to help nourish the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks, is supporting food banks in 43 countries on the front lines of COVID-19. From Brazil to Botswana, food banks around the globe are seeing unprecedented demand – the likes of which will not ease anytime soon. While COVID-19 is a health and economic crisis everywhere, the virus poses a significant threat to countries already dealing with issues of food insecurity.

GFN recently conducted a survey with its member food banks to understand how the needs in communities are changing amid COVID-19. Hunger relief organizations in 39 countries are reporting:

  • 50-100%+ increase in demand for emergency food assistance. One member noted: “We are handling five times more than our normal capacities.”
  • 90% reported an urgent need for food. One member noted that due to panic buying, “Retail donations have been negligible for the past two months and show little indication of resuming. The current bump in wholesale donations and food drives will not be sufficient to offset these losses.”
  • 86% reported an urgent need for funds. A member shared: “Prepared food sources for rescue have dried up; we therefore now need funds to buy food.”
  • 80% reported that COVID-19 has had an impact on the school feeding programs that the food bank supports.
  • 21% stated an urgent need for more employees or volunteers to handle the increase in demand.

Demand for food relief has skyrocketed in recent weeks as government-imposed lockdowns and travel restrictions have cascaded across nearly every continent. This week the International Labour Organization estimated that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have put at risk 1.25 billion workers in low-paid jobs “where the sudden loss of income is devastating.”

GFN member food banks are providing vital food relief as demand accelerates. During the COVID-19 crisis, food banks are surging capacity to meet unprecedented demand despite significant restrictions on movement and social interaction.

GFN is proud to support its member food banks through funds, shared learnings, and coordination. Since the beginning of March, GFN has technically and financially supported COVID-19 food relief in 37 countries. To further promote coordination and best practices, it shares a COVID-19 toolkit weekly between 60+ countries. This promotes learnings and helps all areas prepare for, respond to, and eventually aid in long-term recovery to community impact resulting from the COVID-19 virus. It includes valuable intel on carrying out zero-contact food distribution, tips for coordinating response in partnership with government, and creative ideas for re-deploying workers that would have been laid off to aid in food relief.

“The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the lives and livelihoods of countless families across the world,” said Lisa Moon, President & CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network. “GFN and our network of community-based food banks are committed to providing food relief to as many families and children as we can during this time.  Those facing hunger should know they are not alone.”

GFN is profoundly grateful to its partners making its COVID-19 response possible. Corporations and individuals have made extraordinarily generous contributions with speed and a collaborative spirit. GFN’s COVID-19 response is made possible by BlackRock, PIMCO Foundation, PepsiCo Foundation, Macquarie Group, Kellogg Company and one of its charitable funds, Cargill, General Mills Foundation, Northern Trust, Caterpillar Foundation, International Paper Company, Lineage Logistics, and many others. It is due to their support that GFN has been able to deploy funding to food banks to purchase food and hygiene products for families, hire additional staff to compete with increased demand, and ensure logistics stay on track.

The effects of COVID-19 will be long-lasting, in terms of number of people affected and impact on the economy. While GFN is providing rapid response support to its network now, it will also proactively address the human and economic impact resulting from COVID-19. GFN has always taken a long-term view and food banks will continue to be a source for community empowerment and resilience.

About The Global FoodBanking Network:

The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) is an international non-profit organization that nourishes the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks in 43 countries. GFN focuses on combating hunger and preventing food waste by providing expertise, directing resources, sharing knowledge and developing connections that increase efficiency, ensure food safety and reach more people facing hunger. Last year, 943 GFN member food banks rescued over 500 million kilograms of food and grocery product and redirected it to feed 9.6 million people through a network of more than 55,000 social service and community-based organizations. For more information, please visit

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