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Weathering the global food shortage

It is becoming more and more difficult for people in some parts of the world to access healthy food. The drought in North Africa, floods in Pakistan, extreme cold in central Asia and the war in Ukraine have sent food prices soaring. Some countries are banning the export of carrots, onions and other products to safeguard their own supplies, which is further limiting food availability.

If you run a food pantry, soup kitchen or other food distribution organization, you have likely already felt the pain of the global food shortage. You may have experienced fewer donations, fewer fresh donations from local grocery stores and farmers, and increased prices for the food you buy.

It is already difficult to run a nonprofit organization, but the above factors make it even more challenging to fulfill your mission of helping people who do not have access to food. As you weather these obstacles, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  1. Stick with your usual guidance regarding food expiration dates. It may be tempting to “stretch” the expiration dates, particularly at times when you see fewer donations coming in. In some cases, this may be OK, as with most shelf-stable foods. But fresh foods can only be stretched so much. Redouble your efforts to examine meat, dairy and eggs for signs of spoilage. If you serve expired food to clients and they become sick, you could be liable for significant damages. Click here for additional information around food safety practices.
  2. Do your best to remain fully staffed. Do not try to cut costs by slashing your staff members’ hours. The fewer employees you have, the more likely you are to make a mistake, miss something important, or be unable to help someone in their time of need. This, in turn, could lead to liability, costing your organization much more than the amount you are saving. If you are having difficulty making ends meet, look for other ways to trim your budget, such as looking for less expensive vendors and exploring how you can make your building more energy efficient.
  3. Make sure you are properly insured. When was the last time you talked with your insurance agent? Do you know whether your insurance policy has been updated to reflect any changes within your organization – new or expanded programs and services, new locations and the like? As the global food shortage continues, you may have increased liability in a number of different areas, and you need peace of mind that you can continue to operate, no matter what happens.

To learn more about insurance, coverages and safety resources for nonprofits and human services organization, visit

Additional food safety resources