Date of this Version



Mary Summers


"food insecurity, hunger, food banks, charitable food, SNAP, food stamps, welfare, government response, social enterprise"


Since their emergence in the 1980s, food banks across the country have transformed from small, independent, community-run operations into complex organizations that move millions of pounds of food. In its infancy, this type of hunger response was provided on an “emergency” basis; however, as “emergency food” increasingly became a fundamental part of people’s diets, charitable organizations partnered with large scale government programs, food industry corporations and millions of volunteers. As the system grew, it evolved from a network of church basements to substantial institutions that provide food choice as well as programs intended to address poverty (a root cause of hunger) more specifically. This thesis will explore the rise and evolution of food banks, how their development over the past 40 years has allowed them to better meet the needs of food insecure individuals in the United States and the limitations of their current efforts.



Date Posted: 18 November 2016


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.