Food Banks As Transnational Actors of a Charitable Future

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:45
Oral Presentation
Stephan LORENZ, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
Food banks arose as a local initiative in the USA 50 years ago. Beside a strong increase in North America over the 1980s they also spread to and within Europe, e.g. with the foundation of the European Federation of Food Banks in 1986. In 2006 the movement reached the global level by launching the Global Foodbanking Network. Thus, food banks have expanded transnationally and have become an established part of the social systems all over the world – or strongly work on their establishment at least as it is the case in India, for example. The core practice of food banks and similar initiatives aims at the collection of excess food from trade, industry and consumption for distributing it to poor and excluded people. It operates based on voluntary work and on being sponsored by businesses. Food banks originated in the affluent societies where food excess has easily been available as a resource for charity. Appearing in welfare states with (different levels of) social security provided by state-based social rights they still found their recipients. Although this is less self-evident regarding the availability of excess food the conception also works in poorer countries. Furthermore, it proves to be compatible to every kind of social system. In contrast to the success of food banks in terms of quantity the establishment of food banks indicates a consolidation of poverty and exclusion much more than helping to overcome it. The paper argues that this is a result of the structural problems of this kind of charitable assistance itself.