39 million people relied on GFN member food banks for their meals in 2021

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In the face of renewed economic turmoil and supply chain disruptions, food banks have once again played a pivotal role in providing emergency food aid, at a level 128% higher than before the pandemic.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S., June 06, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, The global network of food banks (GFN) announced that food banks in 44 countries served 39 million people in 2021, demonstrating that food aid needs remain at high levels in the face of rising food prices and disrupted supply chains supply.

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The data is part of GFN’s annual network survey, and this year’s responses highlight the importance of a strong food bank network in times of crisis.

“Communities around the world are facing hunger at an unprecedented rate,” said Lisa Moon, President and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network. “Constantly, food banks are stepping up and using their unique expertise to connect millions of people to nutritious food.

The 39 million people who requested emergency food assistance represents a 128% increase over pre-COVID service levels in 2019. In addition, around 54% of people were served regularly for more than three months in 2021, while 44% of those served visited food banks occasionally, temporarily or for the first time due to a change in economic circumstances.

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More than three quarters of the people served by GFN member food banks live in emerging market and developing economies. Most of the people who visited GFN member food banks in 2021, around 24 million, live in Asia and Oceania. Another 8.8 million food bank visitors come from Latin America. Children aged 17 and under accounted for more than a third of the total number of people served.

Food banks distributed an average of 57% more food and groceries than the previous year, despite supply challenges caused by supply chain disruptions and other factors. The most commonly distributed products are fruits and vegetables, which represent 30% of what an average food bank offers.

While the need for hunger relief has been unprecedented, so has the generosity and determination of the Network’s partners. Nearly 317,000 people volunteered with GFN partner food banks, a 14% increase from 2020, providing over 8 million hours of support.

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2022 is already proving to be another difficult year for people facing hunger and food insecurity, with the invasion of Ukraine compounding the lingering effects of the pandemic and driving food prices higher. But food banks will continue to respond quickly and effectively to crises, building on the experiences of recent years.

“Unfortunately, we are probably on the verge of a global hunger crisis,” Moon said. “Food banks will be at the heart of the response. Lessons learned during the pandemic have strengthened the Network, enabling us to better provide ongoing services to children, individuals and families in vulnerable situations.

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About the Global Food Bank Network:

The Global FoodBanking Network supports community solutions to reduce hunger in more than 40 countries. While millions of people struggle to access enough safe and nutritious food, almost a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. We are changing that. We believe that food banks run by local leaders are key to achieving Zero Hunger and building resilient food systems. For more information, visit foodbanking.org.

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