GFN to host first virtual Food Bank Leadership Institute

For the first-time in its 14-year history, the annual Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) is going virtual. The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) is excited to bring you a series of online events between July and December 2020 specifically created to advance the vital work of food banks all around the world.

In 2019, over 150 food bankers from more than 50 countries convened at Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI) 2019 in London, England 25-27 March 2019. FBLI attracted not only food bankers, but corporate partners and thought leaders from across the globe to discuss the unique challenges facing the sector as they work to meet the needs of food insecure populations, while reducing food waste globally. To date, nearly 600 individuals from 74 countries have benefited from the training, idea sharing, and peer networking provided at FBLI. FBLI 2020 was originally due to take place in Mexico City in March. Due to COVID-19 that has switched to this virtual gathering.

COVID-19 has created an economic and social crisis unlike any in living history, and food banks are on the front lines.  The number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to increase by 20 percent, more than a billion laborers have been unable to return to work and earn a living wage, and hundreds of millions of children are missing out on lunches at school. This crisis is expected to endure for quite some time.

On June 9, the UN Secretary General declared “although, globally, there is enough food for everyone, the significant decline in economic growth due to the pandemic has translated into an issue of access to food, limiting people’s ability to get enough or nutritiously enough food, especially in countries already hit by hunger and other crises even before COVID-19.”  The UN is projecting that hunger could dramatically worsen, and quickly, as the economy contracts.

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, demand for food bank service has risen by 50-100 percent.  Food banks are scaling operations during a time when food donations are low due to disruptions in the supply chain, and some funding resources are drying up due to the economic crisis. Many traditional distribution channels are no longer viable due to agency closures and social distancing requirements.

Given these new challenges, and the overwhelming need for food relief, it has never been more critical to unite food banks and partners that care about hunger globally and discuss how to urgently scale relief.

FBLI will feature different styles of sessions, from expert keynote talks to small group discussions and workshops amongst food bank peer groups.

  • Global Sessions: Featuring high-level experts providing perspective on how COVID-19 is impacting the world and what the implications are for the next few years; release of original research by GFN conducted specifically for food banks. These sessions are open to everyone, please register for each session (there is no cost to register).
  • Regional and Strategy Sessions: Knowledge-sharing, problem-solving, and collaboration between peer groups of food bank leaders. In order to promote engaging dialogue, participation in these sessions is limited to food banks within the GFN Network.
  • Food Bank Idea Center: An online destination showcasing innovations, demonstrations, and ideas from food banks around the world. You can take a virtual walk through the Idea Center any time to experience a selection of the work that food banks conduct daily.

The first vFBLI session will take place on 8 July 2020 with Law and Policy Solutions for Greater Food Donation. This session will feature speakers from the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and will discuss the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, a first-of-its-kind interactive resource to analyze and compare food donation policies across countries, and inspire long-term policy solutions to food waste, hunger, and climate change. Register for this session here.

If you are interested in or want more information about vFBLI, please visit for updates on sessions and speakers. In addition, if you have any questions please contact

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