It is difficult to be critical of food banks. It is even more difficult to find fault with the thousands of dedicated, caring volunteers who staff food banks so that those who might otherwise go hungry, receive essential food. People who rely on food banks are grateful and naturally reluctant to be critical of them. Who would “bite the hand that feeds them”?

While food banks provide a much needed buffer between hunger and survival, after 30 years of existence there are advocacy groups that question whether food banks are capable of reducing poverty over the longer term. They express a growing fear that food banks may mask the underlying poverty that drives their use and shield the public from the harsher realities of food insecurity. The very existence of food banks may even foster the false impression that the hungry are being fed and that government can lower its guard on real poverty reduction initiatives.