Food Banks Uniquely Positioned to Aid in the Fight Against Child Hunger

The Global FoodBanking Network member food banks effectively serve school-age children while schools are in session as well as when schools remain closed due to COVID-19.

Chicago, IL (September 16, 2020) – In many parts of the world, schools remain closed due to COVID-19.  An estimated 300 million children have been without school meals and are at risk of hunger since the start of the pandemic. In communities across the globe, food banks are working to prevent the COVID-19 health crisis from becoming a hunger crisis.

According to Healthy Nations Start with Healthy Children – A View from the Field, food banks have an important role in supporting the food needs of school children in this crisis now and when school resumes. The new report highlights how food banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable children and their communities.

The report, released today by The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), presents the results of a survey of the organization’s member food banks in 30 countries. In 2019, these food banks served an estimated 3.49 million school-age children. Since the pandemic, millions more children and their families have relied on food banks to meet their basic food needs.

The study released today represents data pre-COVID, showing the scope of school feeding programs supported by food banks in many countries where school meal programs are essential to preventing child hunger. During this time, GFN food banks operated a variety of targeted child hunger initiatives, including programs that provided school breakfasts, backpacks or weekend take-home rations, school lunches, summer or holidays food rations, and nutrition monitoring and education. For example:

  • Alimento para Todos (APT) in Mexico City developed a program aimed at bridging the meal gap on weekends for students. The BackPack Program, which fills backpacks with healthy foods each weekend during the school year, aims to improve the nutrition status of children and empower them to do better in school and lead healthy lives.
  • Since 2013, FoodForward South Africa (FFSA) has partnered with Kellogg’s South Africa to provide breakfast for thousands of children each school day. In 2019, FFSA distributed breakfast to primary and secondary schools in areas of high poverty and unemployment in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, serving 30,035 students daily.
  • Established in 2001 with 17 schools, Foodbank Western Australia developed the first School Breakfast Program run by a food bank in the GFN Network. By 2019, 490 schools participated in the program. The program directly reached over 21,500 children, serving more than 69,900 breakfasts each week.

Healthy Nations Start with Healthy Children – A View from the Field shows how food banking’s community-based approach creates programs that can have a profound impact on children,” said Lisa Moon, President & CEO, GFN. “By working collaboratively with business, civic and government leaders, food banks can facilitate urgent hunger relief and create access to food for children in food insecure households.”

School-based feeding programs are among the most cost-effective means of addressing child hunger. To better identify the challenges and opportunities of implementing and scaling child hunger program, the report recommends:

  • Strengthen government social support systems through school meals. The public and private sectors should make critical investments in school-based feeding programs as a means of promoting a society’s educational, employment and economic success.
  • Strengthen the role of food banks and other private-sector actors. Food banks can support the ongoing development of food aid to vulnerable populations and can help secure public investments in social protection, health, education and economic development.

Without intervention, childhood hunger can have devastating effects. Moderate to severe food insecurity can cause debilitating damage to a child’s physical and cognitive development with consequences which may last a lifetime if not addressed. This not only threatens a child’s future but also harms families, communities and nations’ economic growth.

This crisis is only being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools closures have interrupted school meal programs, leaving more than 300 million children without a reliable daily meal. At the same time, families have suddenly lost incomes and the ability to purchase adequate food.

“Women and children have been impacted the most by the pandemic, and communities will need to rely on food banks more than ever before to help fill the gap of government’s social services.” said Ms. Moon. “As Healthy Nations Start with Healthy Children – A View from the Field shows, food banks are well positioned to answer the call for increased aid.”

Research for Healthy Nations Start with Healthy Children – A View from the Field was made possible by The Kellogg Company Fund, Bank of America Charitable Foundation and International Paper. Read the full report here:

About The Global FoodBanking NetworkThe Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) is an international non-profit organization that nourishes the world’s hungry through uniting and advancing food banks in more than 40 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, GFN member food banks rescued over 900 million kilograms of food and grocery product and redirected it to feed 16.9 million people through a network of more than 56,000 social service and community-based organizations. For more information please visit


Katie Lutz

Manager, Communications, GFN


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