Abstract for:Sustainability of surplus food redistribution systems
A large and growing number of people in highly developed countries in 2018 are food insecure. Food banks, mostly non-profit organizations which collect surplus non-marketable food from local restaurants, supermarkets and food producers and redistribute it among people in need are one of the main mechanisms for addressing food insecurity. While the number of food banks around the world is growing, there is some question about whether the model is sustainable and fundamentally serves its objectives. This study critically examines from a systems’ point of view whether food banks are viable and effective solutions to cope with the increasing food insecurity problem. We use the largest food banks network in Portugal - Re-Food as a case study. Results of this study suggest that food banks should not serve as a primary solution to food insecurity, however if coupled with sound public policies which would help to stabilize the growing demand for charitable food, these systems could potentially provide an important bridge to help people in difficult life circumstances until the food insecurity problem could be eliminated.