No. 6: Urban Food Insecurity & Food Banking in Southern Africa
In most African cities, there is sufficient food to feed everyone and considerable wastage of fresh and processed foodstuffs. Poor households are food insecure because they cannot afford to purchase enough quality food and are unable to access the surplus food that exists. Food redistribution NGOs are well established in Southern Africa but more recently large centralized food banks have been advocated as a means to get surplus food to the hungry. In 2009, the first food banks opened in the South African cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The South African model of food collection and distribution was developed in collaboration with American food bankers. This paper examines the arrival of American-style food banking in Southern Africa and its potential to “depoliticise” the problem of urban food insecurity. More food banks are planned for other South African cities. While foodbanking can offer temporary relief for the urban food insecure, they do not address the deeper, structural causes of food insecurity.