Rockefeller Grant Helps GFN, Food Banks Address Cost-of-Living Crisis

Through funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, GFN is working with food banks in 10 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to address the ongoing global food crisis.

In Ashaiman, Accra, Ghana, Abubakari Barikisu, a teacher at the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah Center, shares watermelon with the students. The watermelon and other food is provided by Food For All Africa . (Photo: GFN/Julius Ogundiran)

Food banks are there for communities in times of crisis.

Conflict, climate shocks, and COVID-19 have driven up the costs of food, fuel, and other critical inputs, contributing to a rise in food insecurity. Today, millions of families are struggling to put food on the table as affordable diets are increasingly inaccessible due to factors beyond their control.

At the same time, nearly one-third of all food produced for human consumption, or approximately 1.3 billion tons of food, is lost or wasted annually. Food loss and waste contributes to climate change and resource depletion while reducing food availability.

In this context, food banks are needed now more than ever. But while food banks are seeing a sustained increase in demand for their services, they’re also seeing fewer opportunities to recover food. Despite this challenge, 49 GFN member food banks distributed 651 million kilograms of food to 32 million people in 2022.

Food banks do so much already — but they can do even more, with the right support. The Global FoodBanking Network, with financial support from The Rockefeller Foundation, is working with food banks to find innovative ways to get more nutritious food to more people while mitigating the impacts of climate change. For many food banks, that means building partnerships with small- and large-scale farmers — often called agricultural recovery programs — to collect surplus produce that would otherwise go to waste and instead distribute it to people facing hunger.

Read on to learn more about how food banks in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are stepping up to serve their communities when they are needed most.

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Food For All Africa Unites Communities and Alleviates Hunger in Ghana

“Since we received the funding, it ignited a light for us,” said Elijah Amoo Addo, founder and executive director of Food All Africa. “We’ve been able to provide a more nutritious, health-focused support system to those we serve. And it also helps reduce food loss and waste. Above all, it helps us support malnourished families and children.”

Funding from The Rockefeller Foundation led to the rapid acceleration of Food All Africa’s agricultural recovery efforts.

For example, the grant allowed the food bank to build a new warehouse, doubling dried goods storage capacity and increasing fresh produce storage by more than 10 times. That means more fruits and vegetables for groups like the Ansaar Foundation School, which enrolls students ages 1 to 14 in one of Greater Accra’s lowest-income urban areas.


Lagos Food Bank Uses Agricultural Recovery to Advance Children's Well Being

“Most of my memories of childhood are of not having enough food to eat,” said Michael Sunbola. Now, as founder and executive director of Lagos Food Bank Initiative, he and his team are working to make sure other children in Nigeria do not have the same experience.

In Abeookuta, Ogun, Nigeria, Sunday, the farm manager at Fenpanath's citrus farm, collects surplus produce that will be donated to Lagos Food Bank Initiative.. (Photo: GFN/Julius Ogundiran)

Lagos Food Bank Uses Agricultural Recovery to Advance Children's Well Being

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but 116 million people – or 44 percent of the population – are moderately to severely food-insecure. At the same time, about 40 percent of all the food produced in the country is lost after harvest.

Lagos Food Bank Initiative is addressing this imbalance by redirecting surplus produce to people who need it. That includes their infant-to-toddler program that addresses Nigeria’s high rate of infant and maternal mortality and malnutrition. But there’s a lot that needs to happen behind the scenes for these programs to be successful.

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From Fields to Families in Honduras

Family farmer Ricardo Bulnes wishes he could have started providing vegetables to Banco de Alimentos Honduras sooner, saying that sending fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste to families in need is a beautiful thing. And he's happy that he is contributing to climate change mitigation as well.

In Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Ricardo Bulnes, owner of Pilones y Flores farm, poses in front of his vegetable farm. (Photo: GFN/Tomas Ayuso)

From Fields to Families in Honduras

Thanks in large part to the grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to The Global FoodBanking Network, Banco de Alimentos de Honduras has been able to increase its focus on recovering fresh produce to distribute to people facing hunger. Last year, Banco de Alimentos Honduras recovered over 700 tons of food from farms as well as large corporations. That same year, the food bank served 36,512 people.

Produce from farmers like Bulnes goes to people like Rosa Evangelista Mendoza Galindo, a single mother who uses the food to prepare meals for her five children.

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Building Strong Nutritional Habits in Guatemala

Sofia Aguilar of Desarrollo en Movimiento ensures people who receive fresh fruits and vegetables from the food bank also know how best to use them by creating recipes and providing cooking classes. “Mothers bring their children, and they can try new foods and realize that they are delicious," she said.

In Guatemala City, Guatemala. Ruth Lopez and her daughter wait their turn to receive a food package provided by Desarrollo en Movimiento food bank. (Photo: GFN/Tomas Ayuso)

Building Strong Nutritional Habits in Guatemala

Through the grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, Desarrollo en Movimiento has been able to put even more focus on improving nutrition for those facing hunger. That funding helped the food bank improve its warehouse facility, increasing its food storage capacity by 52 percent, which allows an extra 225 tons of food to be stored and donated.

The food bank can now recover more than 2,000 tons of fruits and vegetables from farmers yearly to benefit 63,000 people per month. And as that food is distributed, Aguilar provides the extra emphasis on nutrition.

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How Food Banks Partner with Farmers to Feed Communities

Farmers aren’t always able to sell all of their produce, for a variety of reasons—the size and shape of the produce might not be marketable, the cost of transportation might be too high, the buyers’ prices might be too low. And so perfectly fresh produce goes to waste.

Food banks in countries like Kenya and the Philippines are helping farmers make sure their surplus produce isn’t wasted but instead feeds people facing hunger. And at the same time, food banks make sure the farmers are compensated with shelf-stable foods, toiletries, and other items.

To learn more, watch the videos to the left and read more about the work of Food Banking Kenya and Rise Against Hunger Philippines.

The Rockefeller Foundation Grant

In May 2023, The Rockefeller Foundation granted $2.8 million to GFN to address food insecurity and reduce food loss and waste in 10 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Specifically, the grant is supporting food banks in Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, and the Philippines.
The grant will provide immediate hunger relief to 700,000 people and build longer term food systems resilience for millions more.
Through the grant, GFN and its partners are increasing the recovery and distribution of wholesome, nutritious food, strengthening food systems, and increasing food access for food-insecure communities.
And by recovering food that would often be lost or wasted otherwise, GFN and its partners are reducing the impacts of food loss and waste and their harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Food banks supported by GFN through the Rockefeller grant are also supporting people coming to food banks for the first time because of climate-related loss of jobs or stability and farmers who are seeing climate change-related variations in their work.