The Global Foodbanking Network

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Foodbank is a proud member of the Global Foodbanking Network, an international organisation dedicated to developing foodbanking around the world.

The history of food banking

The first ever food bank was founded in 1967 by John van Hengel in Phoenix Arizona. Van Hengel volunteered at St Vincent de Paul, collecting donations for the community dining room. He learned from someone retrieving food from a supermarket dumpster that stores disposed of food that had damaged packaging or was near expiration. Armed with this knowledge, he met with store managers in the area and persuaded them to donate edible but unsaleable food to St Vincent de Paul. Soon he was receiving more food than one dining room could use. He thought of creating a central location from which any agency can receive donations. With the help of St. Mary’s Basilica, the first food bank was born.

From this experience, the concept of food banking was born. Based on the idea of a ‘bank’, individuals and companies who had the resources could make a ‘deposit’ of food and funds through donations and agencies could make ‘withdrawals’. Van Hengel approached St. Mary’s Basilica with his idea of creating a central location where social service agencies could receive needed food for their clients at no cost.

In its first year, the Food Bank, comprised of van Hengel and a few volunteers, collected and distributed more than 250,000 pounds of food to 36 local agencies. Inspired by the concept, cities across America began opening their own food banks. From here the concept of food banking spread around the world coming to Australia in 1992.

Find out more at

Foodbank NSW Foodbank QLD Foodbank VIC Foodbank SA Foodbank NT Foodbank WA Foodbank TAS Foodbank AUS