It can be hard to grasp the true magnitude of world hunger, but the fact is that close to a billion of us do not have enough to eat. Each year the death toll from hunger and malnutrition exceeds that of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. What’s makes this human tragedy even less comprehensible – and more unjust – is that the world produces enough food to nourish everyone. But one-third of all the food we produce is lost or wasted. Our landfills are literally overflowing with food while children are starving.
The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) works to alleviate hunger and reduce food waste by creating, supporting and strengthening food banks around the world in countries outside the U.S. As a network organization supporting food banks in 25 countries, we fight the problem of world hunger at the local level by collaborating with businesses and organizations that share our goal of making the world a better place. A recent and really powerful example of how we do this is a field project we initiated with IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) and Banco de Alimentos de Mérida (BAMAC) in Mérida, Mexico.
BAMAC is a member of Banco de Alimentos de Mexico (BAMX), the national organization that unifies the many food banks in Mexico (and a founding partner of GFN). IBM Corporate Service Corps deployed two veteran IBM professionals to the food bank to provide counsel on ways to improve food sourcing and distribution to help the food bank feed more people
The IBMers who took on this project for the food bank established its goal of achieving a 100 percent increase in capacity by 2015. Their recommendations included developing a classified food system to improve efficiency, and a communications plan to increase awareness, donations and volunteer workers. As the project grew in size and scope, the IBM team provided valuable help in additional areas such as governance, expanding human resources and volunteer engagement, and improving food sourcing capability and systems. BAMX immediately began to implement some of the CSC recommendations, which already have led to meaningful and sustainable changes to the food bank in Mérida.
In an exciting development, the head of the Mérida food bank presented our project and detailed the initial implementation of recommendations at a BAMX board meeting. The response was extremely positive, a reflection of the tremendous interest among Mexican food banks in incorporating the ideas suggested by the IBM CSC team.
IBM and BAMX currently are collaborating on strategies for further implementation of the CSC recommendations, and a number of additional food banks are interested in working with CSC on similar projects. In fact, the collaboration among GFN, the Mérida food bank and IBM CSC has proved to be so successful that we are discussing ways to develop similar projects throughout Latin America.
We are enormously grateful to IBM CSC for their support of food banking, and are excited to strengthen our mutually beneficial relationship to find opportunities that will deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of people. While it still can be difficult to wrap one’s arms around a crisis of this size and scope, it’s encouraging to know that when we work together to roll up our sleeves and dig in, we can make a big difference.
Jeffrey D. Klein is President and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), an international non-profit organization that fights world hunger by creating, supporting and strengthening food banks around the world, in countries outside the U.S. GFN works in the more than 25 countries that are home to more than one-third of the world’s nearly one billion undernourished people.