Timothy J. Richards, Marvin and June Morrison Professor of Agribusiness, Arizona State University

Stephen F. Hamilton, Professor, California Polytechnic State University
Craig Gundersen, ACES Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois

Food banks are an essential part of efforts to alleviate food insecurity in the United States. In 2018, food banks delivered 1.4 billion pounds of food to over 51 million Americans. Despite the economic and social importance of food banks, we know little about the role of food banks in the food supply chain. In this proposal, we explain the symbiotic relationship between food banks and food retailers, to test the impact of food donations on retail pricing, to estimate the impact of food banks on the depth of food insecurity, and to test the impact of food-bank donations on retail food loss. Our proposed research aims to develop a set of theoretical and empirical models that examine these questions by combining a unique data set of food donations with existing census and retail scanner data, and data generated by Feeding America through their Map the Meal Gap (MMG) data initiative. By focusing new analytical techniques on the role of food banks in the food economy, our research seeks to advance the state of theoretical and empirical knowledge on how food banks have emerged as a private-sector solution to critical public-policy issues.