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Building the Bridge: Linking Food Banking and Community Food Security

Building the Bridge: Linking Food Banking and Community Food Security

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Published by: Community Food Security on Nov 25, 2010
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buildingthe bridge
LinkingFood Bankingand CommunityFood Security
Andy FisherFebruary 2005Community Food Security CoalitionWorld Hunger Year
There is a great, but often overlooked calamity in America today—it is hunger in our midst. In the world’s mostfood abundant nation, an estimated 36 million needy Americans are hungry or at risk ofhunger. Many ofthose at risk,or going hungry, are our nation’s most vulnerable people—seniors, children and the disabled. Their needs call out forour attention.America’s Second Harvest—The Nation’s Food Bank Network, is pleased to support the
Building the Bridge 
documentby World Hunger Year and the Community Food Security Coalition. For more than 25 years, America’s food banks andtheir partner local agencies have helped provide billions ofpounds offood and other support to our nation’s mostvulnerable people. An estimated 23 million low-income people—including 9 million children and nearly 3 millionseniors —turned to the America’s Second Harvest network for emergency food assistance last year.In many communities, as the
Building the Bridge 
document highlights, America’s Second Harvest member food bankshave embraced a broader strategy ofproviding food assistance beyond our historical food aid activities to include effortsin community building, sustainability, and supporting self-reliance activities among our recipients. We stronglyencourage the type ofcollaborations and innovations recommended in this document.The
Building the Bridge 
document helps to highlight public and private partnerships that are springing up all aroundthe country. Government and charities, farmers and ranchers, food makers and processors, community groups and faith-based organizations are all working together to help each oftheir needy neighbors—today with food assistance, andtomorrow with self-sufficiency. A hunger-free America is possible, but only through greater collaboration and mutualsupport at all levels ofAmerican life. We hope you, the reader, will find the
Building the Bridge 
document as useful andhopeful as we do.Sincerely,Robert ForneyPresident & CEO
building the bridge1
-— Bill Ayres, Executive Director, World Hunger Year
verybody knows what food banks do. They provide millions oftons offood each year that serve millions ofpeople. That's whatthey have always done. That's what they will always do. WRONG! Food banks do more, much more. Many ofthem are on thecutting edge ofa grassroots movement that can provide the basic components to ending hunger in our country. Here are some of the most important breakthroughs in food banking that I have seen that make food bankers a dynamic partner in community food securi-ty initiatives - resulting in one ofthe most exciting movements in America.Food bankers know that for hunger to end, people must be empowered to achieve self-reliance. They realize that government hungerand poverty programs are a critical tool for making this happen. Many food banks have become leading advocates for federal and statehunger and poverty programs and many conduct outreach for food stamps, WIC, and Earned Income Tax Credit. They realize the power of their networks and the importance oftheir advocacy in fighting hunger. To further foster self-reliance, many food bankers have also expand-ed their services to include job training, mentoring, nutrition education, and more. In other words, food banks are still doing what they dobest - providing food for hungry people—but they are also providing many ofthe tools for economic justice and self-reliance.Food bankers have always seen themselves as a part ofthe community as a whole. During the past decade, as the Community FoodSecurity movement has grown, food bankers have joined its efforts to ensure that every community has access to safe, nutritious, affordablefood and that as much food as possible is grown and purchased locally to support local farmers. Many food banks today have their owngardens, farms, or farm stands, and many more partner with CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and independent community gar-dens and farms. The results are more fresh food for hungery people and stronger, more economically viable farms and gardens.Over the years, food bankers have been enormously creative in finding new sources offood and delivering it more efficiently. Morefood bankers are using that same creativity in incorporating community food security initiatives, advocacy, and other self-reliance buildingprograms into their work. Significant breakthroughs have already happened in many individual food banks. The purpose ofthis report isto share some ofthe creative programs we already know ofand to encourage the sharing ofthe most effective food banking models in theserelatively new areas ofcommunity food security, advocacy, and promoting self-reliance.Yes, food banking is primarily about getting food to hungery people, but it is becoming much more. Let us strengthen the partnershipsthat will continue to help more and more people become selfreliant and to ensure a healthy, thriving food system for all.

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