How Food Banks Are Helping Communities Reduce Hunger and Food Waste

The world produces more than enough food to go around, but more people face hunger every day. Part of the reason for this paradox is food waste. An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted each year globally. At the same time, between 720 and 811 million people suffer from hunger around the world. During the UN Food Systems Summit and ahead of World Food Day, the international community has committed itself to ending hunger and reducing food waste as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2 and 12.3.

Food banks can contribute to this effort. As a local network of food banks in Mexico, the The Mexican Foodbanking Network (BAMX) reclaims wasted food and redirects it to people in need — a green solution toward zero hunger and sustainability. This model holds promise as a potential game-changer intervention addressing the paradox of hunger and food waste.

Why Is Food Insecurity on the Rise in Mexico?

According to the 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, nearly 1 in 3 people did not have access to adequate food in 2020 globally – an increase in almost 320 million people since 2019.

NFZH_SOFI_Stats-02

Hunger in Mexico is no different. In 2018, only 44.5 percent of households in Mexico were identified as food secure. Access to fried foods, soft drinks, and pastries is more common in more remote areas than perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables, or meats, and 21 million people in Mexico do not have enough income to cover the basic food basket cost. It is seven times more expensive to get a thousand calories from nutritious food for the poorest households.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the food insecurity landscape. BAMX member food banks now serve an additional 700,000 Mexicans, increasing product distribution by 50 percent. In response to the needs of children affected by school closures, food banks are meeting the demand through community-based food package distribution.

Mexican woman gets donations from food banks

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMX has nearly doubled its food distribution to people facing food insecurity and hunger. We created a new system using communication channels like WhatsApp to conduct interviews and receive documentation to determine if families are eligible. The need for partnerships has amplified as the number of families in need on our waiting lists has increased.

BAMX Provides a Sustainable Solution to Hunger

Here’s how The Mexican Foodbanking Network works: we rescue surplus nutritious food that restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and farmers don’t use and donate it directly to low-income families that need it. In 2019 alone, BAMX rescued 120,000 tons of food, which has, in turn, benefitted 7,520 families and 30,080 people.

Food banks are beginning to play an increasingly important role in the effort to address food insecurity in Mexico, bringing the private sector into an area of service that for decades had been the domain of the federal government.

Diverting food waste to composting is better than sending it to a landfill but preventing food from being wasted in the first place is an even better way to lessen the impact on the environment. By deterring food from crowding landfills, we help reduce carbon emissions, minimize the environmental and economic cost losses, and ensure the efficiency of food production, processing, and retail systems.

The Role of Nutrition to Reduce Hunger

The role of nutrition in food assistance is of utmost importance since we seek to provide food and deliver good quality meals of high nutritional value. In addition to providing basic food, we also ensure that all food packages contain fruit and vegetables, which provide families with vitamins and minerals necessary for their good health.

We also provide nutritional education projects. We share the necessary tools so that families know how to take advantage of and maximize the nutrients in the food that we deliver to them. Our non-profit organization provides children with meals to fuel their growth, parents with groceries to fill the cupboards, and seniors with the nutrition they need to stay strong.

Advancing the food banking model in Mexico will play a critical role in achieving the zero-hunger sustainable development goals. Food Banks, such as BAMX, work within communities at the local level by implementing nutrition projects, talks, consultations, and nutrition workshops. We are teaching families to cook and prepare meals properly, thus promoting good nutrition habits.

Partnering with Nutrition for Zero Hunger

Realizing and maximizing the positive impact of reducing food loss and waste requires good governance, human capital development, collaboration, and partnerships. We are proud to partner with Herbalife Nutrition. Thanks to the Nutrition for Zero Hunger’s alliance and donation, we can positively impact the diet of more Mexican families and improve their nutrition and health. Through the Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative, we hope to strengthen and enhance the nutrition and livelihood of Mexicans and their environment.

With Herbalife Nutrition’s partnership, we can have a broader impact by implementing projects that can strengthen the capacities of the beneficiary families. The new partnership with Herbalife Nutrition will include a $50,000 donation to improve food quality in Mexico. Through this donation, 7,520 families will receive support with more than 66,000 pounds of food in the 27 states the organization operates.

Our food systems cannot be resilient if they are not sustainable. Hence the need to focus on the adoption of integrated approaches designed to reduce food loss and waste. Increasing the efficiency of our food systems and reducing food loss and waste necessitates investment in innovation, technologies, and infrastructure.

Our BAMX model is uniquely positioned to address the paradox of global hunger and food waste. While hunger relief is at the heart of what food banks do, food banks also address the environmental impact of food waste.

To benchmark against the twin SDG goals of ending hunger and reducing food waste, policymakers should support and promote the further development and scaling up of food banks. You can also be part of the change and improve the nutrition of thousands of Mexican families. Visit www.bamx.org.mx to learn more.