Knowledge for better food systems

Food bank nations: Poverty, corporate charity and the right to food

This book by Graham Riches investigates the root causes of hunger in developed countries and questions the acceptance of food banks as an appropriate response.

Publisher’s summary

In the world’s most affluent and food secure societies, why is it now publicly acceptable to feed donated surplus food, dependent on corporate food waste, to millions of hungry people? While recognizing the moral imperative to feed hungry people, this book challenges the effectiveness, sustainability and moral legitimacy of globally entrenched corporate food banking as the primary response to rich world food poverty. It investigates the prevalence and causes of domestic hunger and food waste in OECD member states, the origins and thirty-year rise of US style charitable food banking, and its institutionalization and corporatization. It unmasks the hidden functions of transnational corporate food banking which construct domestic hunger as a matter for charity thereby allowing indifferent and austerity-minded governments to ignore increasing poverty and food insecurity and their moral, legal and political obligations, under international law, to realize the right to food.

The book’s unifying theme is understanding the food bank nation as a powerful metaphor for the deep hole at the centre of neoliberalism, illustrating: the de-politicization of hunger; the abandonment of social rights; the stigma of begging and loss of human dignity; broken social safety nets; the dysfunctional food system; the shift from income security to charitable food relief; and public policy neglect. It exposes the hazards of corporate food philanthropy and the moral vacuum within negligent governments and their lack of public accountability. The advocacy of civil society with a right to food bite is urgently needed to gather political will and advance ‘joined-up’ policies and courses of action to ensure food security for all.

 

Reference

Riches, G. (2018). Food Bank Nations: Poverty, Corporate Charity and the Right to Food. Routledge, London and New York.

For more details, see here. See also the Foodsource building block What is food security?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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