In the US, there is a wide-ranging network of at least 370 food banks, and more than 60,000 hunger-relief organizations such as food pantries and meal programs. These groups provide billions of meals a year to people in need. And yet hunger still affects one in nine Americans. What are we doing wrong?
In Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries, Katie Martin argues that if handing out more and more food was the answer, we would have solved the problem of hunger decades ago. Martin instead presents a new model for charitable food, one where success is measured not by pounds of food distributed but by lives changed. The key is to focus on the root causes of hunger. When we shift our attention to strategies that build empathy, equity, and political will, we can implement real solutions.
Martin shares those solutions in a warm, engaging style, with simple steps that anyone working or volunteering at a food bank or pantry can take today. Some are short-term strategies to create a more dignified experience for food pantry clients: providing client choice, where individuals select their own food, or redesigning a waiting room with better seating and a designated greeter. Some are longer-term: increasing the supply of healthy food, offering job training programs, or connecting clients to other social services. And some are big picture: joining the fight for living wages and a stronger social safety net.
These strategies are illustrated through inspiring success stories and backed up by scientific research. Throughout, readers will find a wealth of proven ideas to make their charitable food organizations more empathetic and more effective. As Martin writes, it takes more than food to end hunger. Picking up this insightful, lively book is a great first step.