Nearly half of all food gets wasted in the EU each year. This statistic is even more shocking when one considers that 79 million EU citizens live beneath the poverty line and some 16 million depend on food aid from charitable institutions. In 2011, in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, 24.2% of Europeans – 119.6 million people – were on the brink of social exclusion.
Food waste prevention and reduction strategies are vital in the wider context of food security – better resource management is needed to feed an ever-growing global population for example – but should also support the most deprived in society. In this respect, food banks can play a crucial role in the food donation process by recovering food from manufacturers, distributors, retailers or individuals (food still fit for consumption that might otherwise be wasted) and redistributing it to civil society organisations and social services.