Recall These Thoughts

Let's keep food banks unusual: We do not want our food banks to exist...

In an earlier piece I challenged the notion that the defect-to-donation model is a way of solving food waste and food security issues. Essentially I argued that stocking food bank shelves should never be considered a move towards resolving food security. It is not. The very existed of food banks, and their shelves, points to the pervasiveness and persistence of food insecurity. Moreover, the growing trend towards diverting food from landfill to food banks for quality or safety defects isn’t a solution to food waste, it’s a clear indicator of excess and the inflation of standards to match. It’s hubris. It is dehumanizing. It is opportunistic.

We do not want our food banks to exist. We look forward to a time when they disappear. We do not want to get too comfortable. We must resist the temptation to expand. I do not think having a food bank on every street corner is a way for our society to go. Foodbanks must do their best to remain ‘unusual’.

Nigel Webster, food bank manager, quoted in The Guardian UK

A recent article in the Guardian UK reasserts the well-known trend that indicates food bank use has become routine for a growing number of people. What’s troubling for the various people interviewed is the absence of any mechanism to lift people out of food bank-reliance. Indeed, the absence of an “exit strategy” is further evidence of the extent to which the state (of the UK, of Canada, or the US; the situation isn’t terribly different) is already failing to address the root causes of food insecurity. Initiatives such as those developed between the USDA and industry to divert food from landfill to charities, detailed in my previous post, furthers the tendency towards state-non-involvement and reaffirms the sloughing off of responsibility for social welfare to industry and civil society. Though none of this comes as a surprise, it aligns well with the political trends of the last 30 years, it is nevertheless disappointing.