A message from the CEO

Partnering to support food banks in Latin America during COVID-19

Dear partner – At the end of May, the U.N.’s World Food Programme announced that about 14 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean could experience severe food insecurity this year due to COVID-19. The region’s economy is expected to contract by 5.3%. Pre-COVID, many countries suffered from significant unemployment and poverty rates; amid COVID, unemployment and poverty are reaching devastating highs. With this landscape in backdrop, GFN recently joined the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in a new partnership – to launch a Food Loss and Waste Reduction Program for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Photo courtesy of Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia
Founded in 1959 to help accelerate progress in its developing member countries, IDB is the leading source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean, providing financial and technical support for countries working to reduce poverty and inequality. Its clients include central governments, provinces, municipalities and NGOs. On World Food Day 2018, IDB launched #SinDesperdicio – meaning No Food Waste – a platform of partners committed to reducing food loss and waste in Latin America and the Caribbean. A total of 12 partners comprise #SinDesperdicio, including Grupo Bimbo, IBM, Nestle, Fundación FEMSA, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Consumer Goods Forum and The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN). Since the platform’s launch, work and funds have been concentrated in Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. “Through this platform, we work on innovation, policy, knowledge and behaviors,” said German Sturzenegger, Manager of #SinDesperdicio for IDB. “One of the key partners has been food banks. Why? Because food banks’ agenda connects directly with the food loss agenda. Food banks make sure people from low-income neighborhoods have access to food at low prices or no prices at all.” “The idea of this platform is to encourage companies and countries to work together on a strategy to reduce the food loss and waste that we have in the region,” said Ana Catalina Suarez Pena, GFN’s Director of Latin America Operations. “We encourage the platform to keep in mind all the time that food banks are part of the solution. Many of the companies are already working with food banks. When we’re talking about food loss and waste, food banks are not the only solution; we are part of the solution.”
Photo courtesy of Bancos de Alimentos de México
When the pandemic hit Latin America and a surge in demand hit food banks, GFN and IDB partnered to bring emergency relief to countries across Latin America via #SinDesperdicio. This current partnership supports GFN member food banks in Mexico, Colombia and Chile in three ways: training on safety, hygiene and contingency plans; assistance on procuring transportation logistics; and assistance in purchasing PPE. “It was very effective to channel this support through GFN,” said German. “Food banks are an effective way of mitigating some of the effects of this crisis. To us, reducing food waste has a lot of potential in helping solve this food security crisis. There are opportunities to rescue food, distribute it and make it accessible to low-income people. Food banks are in the middle of it all.” Ana Catalina shared, “The food banks are happy; they are excited. This grant from IDB and #SinDesperdicio is a door for them, too, and opens a world of possibilities.” #SinDesperdicio is part of the solution in tackling Latin America’s food loss and waste problem – and is another vehicle for getting food to hungry people, especially during our current crisis. We are thankful to be a part of #SinDesperdicio and a partner to IDB, and we look forward to working alongside both groups on this LatAm development agenda. In addition to partnering with IDB to reduce food waste in Latin America, GFN has collaborated with Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic to produce the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, which maps the laws and policies affecting food donation in five countries, including Mexico and Argentina, and provides recommendations to prevent unnecessary food waste and improve food distribution to those in need. Every step we take forward gets us closer to a world free of hunger. Thanks for taking steps with us, and please follow us on social media and keep tabs on our COVID-19 response here. My best, Lisa Moon President & CEO The Global FoodBanking Network