Alleviating hunger is a daunting, complex task that is only possible through creative, committed partnerships. When businesses partner with food banks, they support community-led solutions that alleviate hunger and reduce food loss and waste while working toward company objectives.
Why are food banks such agile business partners? Because they work at the intersection of food systems, civil society, and the private sector.
There are many ways for companies to work with food banks, and because food banks exist in local communities around the world, partnering helps businesses make a significant and meaningful impact on food insecurity globally.
Here are five ways businesses can partner with food banks:
Staff from Banco de Alimentos de Uruguay unload frozen seafood donated by Holland America Line. The food bank distributed this food to 14 hospitals and other community partners. (Photo: Banco de Alimentos de Uruguay)
1. Donate food
Food banks recover surplus food and efficiently distribute it to people facing food insecurity. While doing so, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food that would have been left to decompose in fields or landfill sites and ensure resources are stewarded responsibly. Because food banks receive donations from partners at every stage of the supply chain—including farmers, manufacturers, distributors, transporters, the hospitality sector, and consumers—they can redirect surplus inventory for many kinds of businesses. By donating food and product surplus to food banks, businesses play a vital role in long-term solutions to food insecurity and climate change.
Take Holland America Line, for example. When COVID-19 shut down the hospitality industry at the onset of the pandemic, the cruise line approached GFN with fresh, surplus seafood, meat, and poultry that, if not donated quickly, would go to waste—and leave the company with the responsibility of disposal. After assessing the logistics of transportation, storage, and distribution capacity of the 44 member food banks in the Network, GFN was able to swiftly connect Holland America with Banco de Alimentos de Uruguay and ensure that five shipping containers worth of high-quality food was distributed to people facing hunger across the country’s 19 states.
Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia is scaling its agricultural recovery program to connect more people experiencing hunger to nutritious, surplus produce through a partnership with PIMCO. (Photo: Asociación de Bancos de Alimentos de Colombia)
2. Invest in hunger alleviation
Now more than ever, social impact is top of mind for consumers as they look to support businesses aligned with their values. By investing in food banks, businesses demonstrate their commitment to alleviating hunger and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely SDG 2: Zero Hunger and SDG Target 12.3: Halve Global Per Capita Food Waste. Financial investment helps food banks scale their programs, distribute more food, and ultimately improve the health of millions of people around the world.
Over the past four years, the PIMCO Foundation has invested over $5 million in GFN to accelerate the growth and long-term efficiency of member food banks. This partnership enabled GFN to provide members with localized, tailored technical support, in combination with strategic capacity-building grants, partnerships with multinational product donors, and a peer networking platform. Their most recent 5-year commitment will provide an additional 17.9 million kilograms of food for 3.28 million people and launch new food banks in six to ten high-need communities over the next five years. PIMCO Foundation’s support demonstrates the significant impact that can be achieved when businesses strategically invest in the food banking model.
DHL employees located throughout the Americas donated over $80,000 to GFN through a virtual food drive campaign. (Photo: DHL)
3. Engage employees to achieve global impact
A company’s commitment to social responsibility is valued by employees, stakeholders, and customers alike. Corporate social responsibility initiatives are strategic investments in a company that often result in improved employee morale and higher productivity, as employees feel connected to a greater mission and purpose. There are several ways businesses can engage their employees in the meaningful work of food banking, including volunteering at local food banks, running fundraising campaigns like cause marketing campaigns, or running virtual food drives. By partnering with GFN and member food banks, companies can launch employee engagement programs in many places where their employees live and work.
DHL Express, a global logistics company, raised over $80,000 through a virtual food drive campaign for the Americas. By partnering with GFN, the company was able to engage over 10,000 employees in over 15 countries to support the work of local food banks, including in Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Argentina.
4. Offer skills and expertise to support food banks
Another way to connect employees to mission-driven causes is through skill-based volunteering. Employees can use their expertise in unique and impactful ways while providing budget relieving services to food banks.
For example, PYXERA Global’s Reimaging Green(er) Solutions to Hunger Challenge led by The PIMCO foundation brought together employees from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bayer, and Western Digital to develop meaningful solutions to make food banking more environmentally friendly. GFN plans to incorporate these innovative approaches into its technical assistance to food banks.
5. Form partnerships to drive food systems change
Sustainable food systems will only be achieved through systemic change—and strategic partnerships between food banks and public and private partners can help drive that change. These partnerships mobilize companies, governments, local authorities, and other stakeholders to achieve shared goals—for example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by recovering food that would be lost or wasted.
Partnerships between companies and food banks can be a significant contributor toward alleviating hunger. If your organization would like more information on how to partner with GFN in this work, please contact us.