Social Innovation in Food Banks, Environmental Scan

Greater Vancouver Food Bank, BC


Food banks are starting to realize that emergency food distribution is not a stand-alone solution for hunger and food insecurity.  Others are developing innovative strategies to increase health and wellness of members and shifting the approach that food banks have historically used.  Currently, there is a gap of information and knowledge around what is happening around social innovation in food banks.  Urban Food Strategies conducted literature and interview-based research into identifying themes and trends in the application of socially innovative practices in North American Food Banks.  As part of this project UFS developed a working definition of social innovation, conducted a literature scan of innovation in food banks, interviewed over 20 managers from food banks, and produced a final report that was disseminated broadly.  A key finding was that many food banks are engaging in socially innovative activities even though they may not self-identify this way and are not recognized externally for this work.