The Importance of Food Banks in Alleviating Hunger
Hunger knows no boundaries, and its ruinous effect is alarmingly similar whether it afflicts an impoverished community or a relatively wealthy area. Across the world, 690 million people go to bed hungry, and an estimated 14 million children under age five suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to Action Against Hunger. Poverty, changes in climate, and political conflicts are all causes of this sad condition.
PIMCO has a long history of working to alleviate hunger. Through the PIMCO Foundation, employees have volunteered and donated to local food banks in Southern California and other cities where we have offices because we understand that it’s difficult to succeed – whether it’s raising a family, getting an education, or holding a job, if all your energy is focused on securing the most basic human need: food. I have also witnessed firsthand that simply providing lunches to impoverished children in rural South Africa has a direct impact on their learning and by extension educational success.
Hunger is a persistent problem, made worse by COVID-19, which is why PIMCO recently announced a substantial increase in its commitment to the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), the world’s largest network of food banks. This builds on a significant investment we’ve already made to help address food scarcity.
Founded in 2006, GFN seeks to expand its network of food banks and help them become more efficient and effective at increasing food distribution to the hungry. In 2020, GFN served more than 27 million people in 44 countries, a 63% increase from the previous year.
An urgent need
The need to expand food distribution is urgent. Prior to the pandemic, some 690 million people lacked regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. A U.N. report last year estimated that the pandemic would add up to 132 million more people to the ranks of the undernourished by the end of 2020. No region is untouched; however, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia suffer the most.
The hungry and malnourished are stripped of their potential – their health, education, employability, and productivity all suffer, hindering economic development. This is especially true for women and girls, who make up 60% of the hungry population, according to the U.N.
Moreover, the United Nations is behind on its goal of ending hunger by 2030, which is why we believe the global community must redouble efforts to tackle the problem and create a better future for everyone.
PIMCO is committed to help alleviate hunger
As a global organization, PIMCO has a responsibility to confront the most urgent global challenges. We give, act, and advocate through Purpose at PIMCO, donating to high-performing nonprofit partners like GFN around the world, deploying the talents of our employees, and taking a leadership role in our industry to advocate for change.
Over the years, PIMCO employees have volunteered to help our hunger partners build capacity, for example by creating technology systems to manage inventory, conducting market analysis for food distribution, and packing food for vulnerable families at distribution centers around the world.
We believe that fighting hunger and gender inequality is critical to human development and sustainable worldwide economic growth.
Why food banks?
We believe food banks are one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to ensure that more hungry people are fed and more charitable dollars are spent addressing the root causes of hunger. Food banks collect and distribute safe, unsaleable food from each point in the supply chain – from farms to grocery manufacturers and retailers – that would otherwise be wasted.
In addition to reducing hunger, food banks help to build communities by providing jobs and purchasing goods and services from local businesses, creating an economic stimulus in the areas they serve. Importantly, food donations also help low-income families free up money to meet other basic needs.
PIMCO employees from our offices in Newport Beach, Austin, New York, and elsewhere support food banks as a way to eradicate hunger and have donated their time and money to help distribute food to the needy. Since 2018, PIMCO has donated nearly $5.6 million to GFN and other charitable partners, distributing food to some 3.6 million beneficiaries around the world.
The private sector’s role
We believe our approach drives positive change in local communities and creates a sense of purpose throughout our organization. We encourage companies to use the same financial and human capital assets that drive their market competitiveness to create a more just and sustainable world for us all.
Visit the Purpose at PIMCO homepage to learn more about our commitment to ending hunger and advocating for gender equality.
Emmanuel Roman is PIMCO’s chief executive officer.