The proliferation of institutionalized corporate food banking, private philanthropy, food banks, and other “emergency measures” as permanent responses to poverty and food insecurity originated in the United States, before spreading to Canada and, most recently, advancing across Europe and other parts of the globe. These private charitable responses do not address the root causes of food insecurity, and often exacerbate poverty, allowing governments to ignore the proven and scalable grassroots solutions and the need for policies that provide sufficient incomes and protect human rights, while bolstering the corporate capture of public policy and funding streams.
FOCUS OF CHANGE
Non-governmental organizations, national networks, grassroots activists, and scholars in North America and Western Europe who recognize the patterns of destructive policies which have taken hold in their countries and beyond, and are seeking to build shared analysis and collective strategies to complement and amplify the ongoing work of powerful grassroots networks that are addressing the root causes of food insecurity and poor health and advocating for a right to adequate food and nutrition.
- The causes of and solutions to hunger and food insecurity are intersectional and multi-dimensional. People are hungry because they are poor. They are poor because they have been systematically and chronically marginalized.
- The ability to access food is a basic human need and a fundamental human right universally recognized under international law. The Right to Food is realized when all individuals, groups, and communities have the right to freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and to have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food in a dignified, culturally acceptable, and sustainable manner.
- Charity shifts attention away from structural issues and leads to superficial fixes which are neither dignified nor long-term. Charity provides short term relief, but leaves underlying causes of chronic food insecurity and poverty unaddressed.
- The ongoing social and political oppression of marginalized groups exacerbates food insecurity and income inequality. Throughout our countries, women, people of color, Indigenous peoples, Black communities, LGBTQ+ persons, those with disabilities, and immigrants suffer from disproportionately high rates of food insecurity.
- The under-regulation of capitalism gives corporations access to policy making around food, including for corporate-backed food waste programs and food banks. These programs have a huge financial incentive and exonerative (greenwashing/reputational?) benefit for corporations and contribute to (rely on?) the persistence of economic inequities and deepening gaps between the rich and the poor.
- Food waste and food insecurity are separate problems demanding separate solutions. Corporate food waste is an intentional design of the industrial food system. Food insecurity is a manifestation of oppression and poverty. Intertwining the two issues as food waste “solving” food insecurity both denies their underlying structural causes and distracts us from long-lasting solutions.
- Climate change is in part a by-product of our unsustainable agro-industrial food system which emits methane and nitrous oxide. Real solutions to climate change lie in small-scale production and agroecology which breathe life into local and regional food and farm economies while addressing social inequalities and oppression across the food system.
VALUES AND GUIDING PRACTICES
- Nutritious food is a human right. All individuals, groups, and communities have the right to freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and to have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food in a dignified, culturally acceptable, and sustainable manner.
- Rights and social justice over charity. Policies and practices to end hunger and food insecurity must address root causes and structural factors, especially the multiple realities of chronic poverty including racism.
- Food builds community. Food connects us to each other, within and across cultures. These connections create more livable, democratic and resilient communities.
- People over profit. Food waste and its corporate capture are products of under-regulated extractive capitalism that privileges profit over the health and well-being of people by scaling up industrial models of production which lie at the heart of many of the current inequalities and oppression of marginalized groups.
- Agroecology and regenerative agriculture nourish both people and the planet. The global industrial food system is deeply unsustainable. False solutions to address climate destruction which benefit corporations, rather than challenging the structural causes, are often presented as the only solution. Real solutions to environmental destruction lie in small-scale production and agroecology- which have the capacity to also address social inequalities and oppression across the food system.
- Shared learning, collective organizing and advocacy over institution building. Non-profit organizations addressing hunger and poverty at its root causes are numerous, especially at the grassroots or community level. They often find themselves competing with each other for limited funding opportunities and to amplify their message in a crowded digital and social media space or advocate for proven solutions at policy tables. We are committed to building connections, convening conversations and – through a process of shared analysis, solidarity and coordinated actions – contributing to the groundswell of movements for food sovereignty.
- Meaningful and authentic inclusion of people with lived experience of poverty and hunger. Those most impacted by hunger and poverty are the experts of their own experience and must be centered in the visioning process, strategy development, research prioritization, communications planning and decision making of the alliance.
- We engage our members in political education towards building a shared analysis across countries about the increasing use of charitable food aid, private philanthropy, and transnational corporate food banking as a flawed response to hunger and poverty.
- We build or join in collective strategies of resistance and alternative models and practices to promote the fulfillment of the right to nutritious food in our respective countries and/or provinces, cities or states.
- We amplify the voices, stories and experiences of those working to ensure the right to food for their communities; of those who are advocating for or implementing root cause solutions; of those who are most impacted by hunger and poverty.
- We name and challenge the set of values, beliefs and stories, as well as the structures and institutions behind them, that uphold the false narratives that hunger and poverty are failures of the individual; that food insecurity is separate from other issues such as housing, health, education, economic justice, racism and human rights.
- We leverage our international perspectives and networks to commission and contribute to research that furthers rights-based and root cause solutions to hunger and poverty and to inspire and cultivate young researchers to advance and deepen these scholarly practices.
- We particularly seek to develop research that builds connections across different geographies and between academia and grassroots collaborators.
Charitable food banking institutions and their supporters will shift their models from charitable food distribution to advocacy and community-led responses to the root causes of food insecurity.
Grassroots actors, especially those most impacted by hunger and poverty, will be supported to provide the social and political leadership essential in defining pathways to food sovereignty and the right to food.
New narratives about the root causes of hunger as told by those on the frontlines will unmask the structural factors behind persistent hunger and poverty and change the public perception of the appropriate solutions to hunger from one rooted in corporate charity and food aid to one rooted in social justice and systems change.
More research and scholarship will be directed by and in service to those on the frontlines of hunger and poverty, and will affirm their experiences as well as the “true” underlying causes and the need for solutions that uproot racism and economic injustice and transform
The Right to Food is justiciable in more countries or within states, cities and provinces of those countries.
Small- or regional-scale farmers and indigenous communities, by practicing agroecology and regenerative agriculture, are contributing to thriving regional food and farm economies and access to sustainably-grown nutritious food.
Grassroots-led social movements for food sovereignty are connected globally, are strengthened and resourced and actively engaged with place-based efforts to reclaim foodways that place people over profit.
Labor policies such as living wages, universal basic income and accessible, robust social security systems are increasingly implemented at the city, province, state and national level.