The History of Food Banks
A food bank is a non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough to avoid hunger.
The world’s first food bank was established in the US in 1967, and since then many thousands have been set up all over the world. In Europe, which until recently had little need for food banks due to extensive welfare systems, their numbers have grown rapidly since the 2006 and even faster since the global economic crisis.
In the UK, traditionally food hampers have been given out to the elderly and vulnerable members of communities at Harvest festivals and at Christmas but all year-round hunger has been a prominent issue since 2007 and has dramatically increased since 2011. Most, but not all, UK food banks are co-ordinated by The Trussell Trust – a Christian charity based in Salisbury which serves as the UK’s only food bank network. The Trussell Trust was established in 2000; in 2004 they only ran two food banks but as of August 2012 a massive 252 were being operated.
In the UK, a food bank is not a “soup kitchen”. Whilst the majority of food banks do give food directly to the hungry it is done by the issue of a voucher system which is issued from a third party. Soup kitchens can be accessed by the hungry without the intervention, assistance or referral of any professional body.