Preparing for and Responding to Crises

When disaster strikes, food banks are often among the first to respond. We help food banks identify the appropriate resources to address crises quickly and effectively.

Food banks are crucial to disaster response and recovery

Because food banks are woven into the fabric of their communities, they’re positioned to respond when disasters and other crises hit.

During disasters—whether it’s a natural disaster like a hurricane or flood, a civil or political conflict, or a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic—people living in vulnerable situations are disproportionately affected. Food banks regularly provide food to at-risk populations; during crises, food banks can adapt to local needs quickly and offer assistance where appropriate. Food banks also ensure a coordinated response effort by working closely with other disaster relief organizations. After the initial phases of the disaster, food banks help communities recover and are critically important to overall long-term recovery efforts.

In 2021, conflict/insecurity, weather extremes and economic shocks, including COVID-19-related economic effects, again constituted the three primary drivers [of food crises]–but these drivers are often interlinked and mutually reinforcing, rendering it difficult to specify a singular trigger of each food crisis.
2022 Global Report on Food Crises from the World Food Program

How GFN helps prepare food banks for disasters

GFN encourages food banks to be a part of local, regional, and national emergency management plans and training, to provide emergency relief in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and to support long-term recovery efforts. We do this through: 

  • Providing specialized technical assistance
  • Offering financial support where possible to assure members can continue to operate during times of disaster
  • Advising GFN members as they create and update their disaster response plans
  • Encouraging food banks to become officially recognized as essential service providers and integrated into governmental disaster management plans.

Food Bank in the Philippines Adapts to Local Needs During Crises

In 2013, Rise Against Hunger Philippines (RAHP) was established to provide food relief in response to Typhoon Yolanda, which affected 14 million people across the country.

As a community-led food bank, when disaster strikes, RAHP leverages existing operations and local knowledge, enabling them to quickly deliver food and household supplies. At the onset of an emergency, RAHP delivers energy-dense, easy-to-prepare food rations, fresh produce, packaged foods, household supplies, and hygiene kits.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, RAHP applied its emergency experience to serve frontline workers, volunteers, and patients.

Building on their knowledge, RAHP is now launching a mobile kitchen program to deploy during emergencies.

See More Ways Food Banks Partner to Build Resilient Communities