Giving Compass’ Take:
• Nancy E. Roman explains why food banks need to define success by the promotion of nutritious food, not just the pounds of food distributed.
• How can philanthropy help food banks better measure their impact?
For nearly four decades, the food bank have provided a vital link between food and families in need. Today, more than 200 food banks across the United States distribute millions of tons of provisions to more than 46 million people, or more than 14 percent of the US population. These hubs supply food pantries, churches, and other charities with their offerings for hunger relief, and thereby shape the food ecosystem for low-income America.
Food banks have largely defined their challenge as lack of food. In response, we have collected large quantities—including junk food—distributed it, and measured our success by pounds of output. While bellies have been filled, we have missed a real opportunity to improve the diet and health of those we serve.
In fact, we may have unwittingly made people’s health worse by failing to appreciate the power of food to prevent the troika of diet-related diseases plaguing low-income America: diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In recent years, the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), which I head, has learned that 49 percent of the people we reach have heart disease or live with someone who does, and 23 percent have diabetes or live with someone who does.
Read the full article about food bank success by Nancy E. Roman at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Public Health, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Public Health.
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