Driven by the mission to help the world reach zero hunger, food bank leaders from 33 countries convened in Houston, Texas, this week to take part in the 12th Annual H-E-B/GFN Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI). The weeklong event, organized by The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) and sponsored by H-E-B, is a forum dedicated to addressing hunger and malnutrition through food banking. FBLI was held at the Houston Food Bank for the sixth year in a row from March 12-15.
This FBLI was the largest in the event’s history, with more than 150 food bank leaders, business leaders, and NGO representatives in attendance. The agenda included information and training that GFN hopes will help food banks increase efficiency and scale operations, ultimately allowing them to collect more food and serve more people facing hunger.
“From inventory management to nutritional programming, FBLI provides a unique platform for food bankers to collaborate and share innovative approaches that drive scale,” said Lisa Moon, GFN president and CEO. “Our aim is for attendees to return home reinvigorated with new information that will make their work as impactful as can be.”
FBLI is a key component of GFN’s education and training program for food banks. Food banking organizations that engaged with GFN, training since their early stage of existence, grew their food distribution on average 85 percent year over year between 2011 and 2017, says the organization. Past FBLI attendees have opened food banks in places where they didn’t previously exist, such as Hong Kong and India, and have expanded programs to address specific problems in their communities, such as childhood hunger and malnutrition.
The event is sponsored by a number of companies, including a number in the grocery industry. Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B has been an annual partner since FBLI’s inception in 2006. “Every day, H-E-B works to address the issue of hunger within our communities, and we continue to support The Global FoodBanking Network as they address hunger on a global level,” said Danny Flores, senior public affairs manager, H-E-B.
This year’s FBLI flagship sponsors are H-E-B and General Mills Foundation. Additional sponsors are Cargill, The DLA Piper Foundation, Kellogg Co. Fund, Bank of America, Griffith Foods International, Ingredion and LyondellBasell.
The Global Food Bank Innovation Award
Oasis Green Food Bank, a food bank based in Shanghai, China, was presented with the Annual Global Food Bank Innovation Award at FBLI. The award celebrates a food bank’s program that exceptionally increased its ability to meet hunger needs in its community. Oasis Green Food Bank’s program, Sharing Fridge Project, was recognized for its creative use of technology, such as facial recognition and mobile apps, to allow beneficiaries access to donated food stored in refrigerators around Shanghai. In total, 12 food banks from eight countries submitted their program for consideration for the award.
“We are honored that food bankers from around the world recognized the Sharing Fridge Project. This recognition encourages new food banks like ours to continue their work to address hunger and food waste,” said Eve Li, director of Oasis Green Food Bank. “Since our establishment, we’ve received great support from GFN and its members. We feel lucky to be a part of this warm and global family. Sharing Fridge Project is just the beginning. We will continue to work with GFN to develop a food bank network in China and to eliminate hunger in the country.”
The next FBLI will take place in London in March 2019. This will be the first time the event will be organized outside of the U.S.
The GFN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding the world’s hungry through launching and strengthening food banks in more than 30 countries. Last year, GFN member food banks rescued 940 million pounds of food and redirected it to feed more than 7.1 million people through 44,000 social service organizations.