Hungry Cities Partnership

Document Type

Hungry Cities Paper

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


As the number and size of food banks increase globally, it is critical to research how food banks fit into existing food systems and their role in reducing food insecurity and food waste. After examining the political ecology of urban food waste in food systems, this discussion paper examines the globalization of food banking and its growth in the Global South. Through a case study of FoodForward SA, it critically analyzes the roles that urban food banks play in cities of the Global South. Since many countries in the South have both the highest levels of food insecurity and the weakest infrastructure, it is in these high-need locations that food banks may struggle to operate effectively. The paper finds that while food banks may improve the efficiency of food redistribution systems, it is unclear whether they reduce food insecurity or food waste in the long term. Also, many food banks suffer institutional crises related to lack of funding, interference by the state or private sector, and inappropriate placement in many parts of the Global South.