Letter to The Observer

The letter below, co-ordinated by GSA members, highlights the damaging impact of growing corporate involvement linked to the provision of charitable food aid. 

It was published in The Observer newspaper, UK, on Sunday 26th March 2023, and was supported by 180 signatories from across the world.

Guaranteeing food for all

The extraordinary efforts of food bank teams, increasingly backed by corporate involvement, should not blind us to the fact that an emergency food parcel cannot do more than temporarily alleviate hunger.  

The latest plea for an Essentials Guarantee from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Trussell Trust and others is testament to the reality that growing reliance on food banks, backed by surplus food redistribution, is an ineffective substitute for poverty-reducing policies.  

All 38 member countries of the OECD now rely on a privatised charitable food aid model often dependent on volunteer labour. The ubiquity of corporate food charity in high-income countries should provide a stark warning. 

The European Federation of Food Banks and the Global Foodbanking Network now collectively operate in 76 countries, including low and middle income states. Their mission is to expand “the presence and influence of food banks all over the world”, further anchoring corporate charitable food aid provision as a means to address hunger through surplus food redistribution.  

While the expansion of organised surplus food redistribution might seem like a win-win solution, this practice fails to reduce food waste levels while undermining policies designed to address food insecurity.  

We need real, long-term solutions based on rights and social justice. Only governments can guarantee these rights. Adopting a ‘cash first’ approach to food insecurity is vital to ensure people can access income before charity, but equally vital is the prioritisation of systemic changes to truly tackle poverty and inequality. 

Guaranteeing the Right to Food and a Living Income through real living wages, together with adequate social security provision, is essential to ending the need for charitable food aid in all societies.  


Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite University of Birmingham

Professor Graham Riches, University of British Columbia 

Sabine Goodwin, Independent Food Aid Network 

Professor Valerie Tarasuk, University of Toronto 

Professor Janet Poppendieck, City University of New York 

Professor Martin Caraher, City University of London 

Professor Liz Dowler, Warwick University 

Kath Dalmeny, Sustain 

Professor Mariana Chilton, Drexel University 

Mark Winne Author, Closing the Food Gap 

Dan Crossley, Food Ethics Council 

Peter Kelly, The Poverty Alliance 

Professor Tiina Silvasti University of Jyvaskyla  

Andy Fisher, Author of Big Hunger 

Dr Sinead Furey, Ulster University 

Professor Rebecca de Souza, San Diego State University 

Dr Joshua Lohnes Center for Resilient Communities, West Virginia University 

Professor Adam Pine, University of Minnesota Duluth 

Professor Elaine Power, Queen’s University 

Professor Molly Anderson, Middlebury College 

Alison Cohen, National Right to Food Community of Practice 

Professor Annie Bellows, Syracuse University 

Deirdre Woods, Granville Community Kitchen 

Dr Charlotte Spring, Wilfrid Laurier University 

Victoria Williams, Food Matters 

Dr Helen Crawley 

Professor Pat Caplan Goldsmiths, University of London 

Professor Jon May, Queen Mary University of London 

Dr Dave Beck, University of Salford 

Dr Andy Williams Cardiff University 

Imogen Richmond-Bishop  

Dr Madeleine Power, University of York

Dr Clare Pettinger, University of Plymouth 

Professor Stephanie Lemke, University of Natural Resouces and Life Sciences, Vienna 

Professor Ernie Lightman, University of Toronto 

Dr. Rod MacRae, Food Policy Analyst 

Dr Adrienne Chambon University of Toronto 

Audrey Tung, PhD candidate, University of Victoria 

Professor Sabine Pfeiffer, Friedrich Alexander University  

Sofia Monsalve, FIAN International  

Dr. Kate Haddow, Newcastle University 

Dr. Gizem Templeton, World Food Policy Center, Duke University 

Professor Davide Marino, Universita di Molise 

Francesca Benedetta Felici, Universita di Molise 

Dr Tammara Soma, Simon Fraser University 

Dr Amaia Inza-Bartolome, University of the Basque Country  

Professor Mabel Gracia-Amaiz, University of Rovira i Virgili  

Professor Leire Escajedo San Epifanio, University of the Basque Country  

Dr Igor Filibi, University of the Basque Country  

Dr Karlos Perez de Armino, University of the Basque Country  

Dr Ainhoa Lasa Lopez, University of the Basque Country  

Professor Stephan Lorenz, University of Jena  

Professor Fabian Kessl, University of Duisburg-Essen  

Professor Holger Schoneville, University of Hamburg 

Ville Tikka, PhD Researcher University of Jyvaskyla University  

Professor Vesna Leskosek, University of Ljublijana 

Dr Christophe Golay, Geneva Academy 

Dr Sue Booth, Flinders University 

Dr Michael O’Brien, University of Auckland  

Dr Katharine Cresswell, Riol Food Poverty and Social Justice 

Professor Mustafa Koc, Toronto Metropolitican University 

Professor Tim Stainton, University of British Columbia 

Professor Miu Chung Yan, University of British Columbia 

Professor Jay Smith, Athabasca University 

Prfessor Ken Collier, Athabasca University 

Professor Jim Harding, past Director School of Human Justice, University of Regina 

Moe Pramanick, Community Mobilization Coordinator FoodShare Toronto 

Dr Jennifer Black, University of British Columbia 

Ian Marcuse, Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks 

Laura Castrejon Violante, University of British Columbia 

Professor Rebecca O’Connell, University of Hertfordshire 

Professor Gary Craig, University of Newcastle 

Dr Naomi Foyle, University of Chichester 

Professor Donna Baines, University of British Columbia 

Tim Li, PROOF Research Program Coordinator University of Toronto 

Professor Marit Rosol, University of Wuerzburg 

Dr Kathryn Machray, University of Glasgow 

Rowan Burdge, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition 

Dr Daniel Warshawsky, Wright State University 

Alana Haynes Stein, University of California Davis 

Paul Taylor and Laetitia Eyssartel, co-CEOs Evening and Weekend Consulting Toronto 

Professor Julia Brannen, University College London 

Dr Christina Pollard, Curtin University 

Dr Timo Sedelmaier, University of Tuebingen 

Miroslav Budimir, University of Ljublijana 

Professor Kate Pickett, University of York 

Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick, Ulster University 

Dr Stephen Crossley, Durham University 

Dr Andrea Gibbons, Food For Life Get Togethers 

Ben Pearson, Food Poverty Campaigner 

Professor Martha Jackman, University of Ottawa 

Professor Evelyn Forget, University of Manitoba 

Dr Hayley Bennett, University of Edinburgh 

Stephen Bartlett, Sustainable Agriculture Louisville 

Andrew Kang Bartlett, Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition 

Leonida Odongo, Haki Nawiri Africa 

Herman Kumara, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement 

Lea Winter, FIAN Switzerland 

Nurul Alam Masud, Food Security Network – KHANI Bangladesh 

Joanthan Peuch, FIAN Belgium 

Mugove Walter Nkiya, ReSCOPE Programme 

Ahmed Sourani, Gaza Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP) 

Joseph Schechla, Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition 

Judith Hitchman, URGENCI International Network of Community Supported Agriculture 

Ashka Naik, Corporate Accountability 

Pramesh Pokharel, All Nepal Peasants Federation 

Andrea Ferrante, Schola Campesina 

Omar Aziki, ATTAC CADTM Morocco 

Alison Katz, People’s Health Movement 

Marisa Macari, El Poder del Consumidor 

Juan Carlos Morales Gonzalez, FIAN Colombia 

Sophie D.Ogutu, World March of Women Kenya 

Patrice SAGBO, ADeD, Benin 

Sophea Chrek, Social Action for Community and Development 

Philip Biswas, Rural Reconstruction Foundation 

Amparo Miciano, National Rural Women Coalition 

Danny Carranza, Kilusan Para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungan Panlipunan (Katarungan) 

Mohamed Hakech, Fédération Nationale du Seceur Agricole 

FNSA/MAROC, Morocco 

Daoude Ndiaye, CNPS Senegal 

Tammi Jonas, Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance  

Abdallah Mkindi, TABIO 

Professor Ruth Hall, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape 

Jordan Treakle, National Family Farm Coalition 

Betsy Garrold, Food for Maine’s Future 

Christina Wong, Northwest Harvest 

Professor Aaron Reeves, Oxford University 

Professor Paul Havemann 

Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South 

Alon Shepon, Israeli Forum for Sustainable Nutrition (IFSN) 

John Peck, Family Farm Defenders 

Dr Kathryn Teigen De Master Berkeley University of California 

Mauricio Saraya Ley, Alianza por le Sud Alimentaria 

Katie Sandwell, Transnational Institute  

Professor Jeff Collin, University of Edinburgh 

Antonio Tovar, Farmworkers Association of Florida 

Ali Aznague, Siyada Network for Popular Sovereignty over Food and Resources  

Alimata Traore, COFERSA Mali 

Dr Sue Kleve, Monash University Convenor S.H.A.R.E Collaboration  

Heather Day, Community Alliance for Global Justice 

Ruchi Schroff, Navdanya International 

Magali Cano, Guatemala Sin Hambre 

Johanne Scheepmans, Mouvement d’Action Paysanne 

Nora McKeon, Terra Nuova 

Brazilian Alliance for Healthy and Adequate Food  

Karyn Moskowitz, Executive Director, New Roots and the Fresh Stop Markets 

Yildiz Temürtürkan, World March of Women 

Sofía Castellanos, Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria (Alliance for Nutritional Health) 

Dr Mira Shiva, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society 

Paulina Solis, ASEED Europe, Amsterdam 


Anna Veilon, Enda Pronat 

FIAN Portugal 

Magdalena Ackermann, Society for International Development (SID) 

Joana Rocha Dias, ACTUAR – Association for Cooperation and Development 

Klara Knapp, Solidarity Sweden Latin-American/Latinamerikagrupperna 

Tozie Zokufa, Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations CAAWO 

Paolo Venezia M., Slow Food Roma 

Ibrahima Seck, Federation Nationale pour l’Agriculture Biologique FENAB 

Penny Walters, expert by experience 

Kenyan Peasants League 

Andrea Pinto, Habitando Fundación Habitando Conservación 

Alison Blay-Palmer, UNESCO Chair on Food Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies 

Robin Burgess 

Dr Lopamudra Patnaik Saxena, Coventry University 

Dr Alison Briggs, University of Manchester 

Prof Lisa Scullion, University of Salford 

Adrienne Montani Executive Director First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society  

Meredith Kerr, Parkdale Food Centre Ottawa 

Dr Bradley Wilson, WVU Center for Resilient Communities 

Dr Angela Babb, Indiana University Ostrom Workshop 

Rachel Blais Executive Director, Qajuqturvik Community Food Centre 

Professor Margot Young, University of British Columbia

Kemi Akinola, Be Enriched 

Councillor Jane Corbett, Deputy Mayor for Fairness and Tackling Poverty, Liverpool

Harry Morgan, This is Rubbish

Graham Whitham, Greater Manchester Poverty Action

Jane Middleton, Labour Hunger Campaign