Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hi-Tech Food Banks & the Safety of Food Supply Chains

by Scott McCallum, President & CEO of Aidmatrix
Posted on

“Food security is closely connected with economic growth and social progress as well as with political stability and peace.” – G8 Summit (July, 2009)

According to the September 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Report on “Household Food Security in the United States in 2010,” nearly 49 million Americans are “food insecure” – meaning that they struggle with the problems caused by not having a sufficient amount of food on a daily basis. Hunger relief organizations across the United States provided 3.3 billion pounds of food last year to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, according to the 2011 Annual Report of Feeding America, the largest U.S. food banking network.

Organizers of food banks continually struggle to secure and protect the very large quantities of food required to fulfill the demand. Some food is donated or purchased at local food agencies, but most of the food distributed comes through a sophisticated network of providers – also known as a supply chain – of growers, food processors, government agencies, and other organizations. An ongoing challenge for a supply chain is keeping the food safe as it crosses between various groups. This task is especially difficult because, according to the Feeding America report, an estimated 78 percent of charitable food is considered “nutritious” – a term that often means short expiration dates and specific handling requirements.

Food contamination could pose an even higher risk for populations that are already nutritionally weakened – and often either uninsured or underinsured. Because of hospitalization and other medical costs associated with food contamination, any health-related issues can be extremely detrimental to any local community, large or small, throughout the entire country. Fortunately, food banks across the nation have been pioneering a number of new hi-tech approaches to address both current and future food-safety problems.

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