Emergency Food Assistance

Responding to hunger in times of emergency

Violent conflict, climate change, political upheaval, natural disasters and economic disruptions cause humanitarian crises that lead to millions of people facing hunger every year. Accessing food becomes a major challenge when fleeing for safety, living through drought, or trying to recover from a powerful cyclone. Our emergency food and nutrition assistance provide families with needed support to survive and recover from the hardships caused by circumstances like these.

Women and children often suffer the most in times of crisis. Where appropriate, emergency food assistance projects—led by one or more of our members —provide fortified food to ensure pregnant and nursing mothers and young children can access the nutrients they need to survive.

Food assistance

Food assistance can be delivered in many different ways. Food rations are often distributed directly to people who need it. Other times vouchers or cash are given to people in need so that they can get food from the local market.

Each situation is unique; the Foodgrains Bank works closely with its members and their overseas partners to determine the most appropriate form of assistance for each specific context.

Helping those in need quickly & efficiently

History of food assistance at Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Early in the Foodgrains Bank’s history, much of the food sent overseas was supplied from Canada. This was due to a Canadian government policy that required government funds to be used to buy food grown in Canada.

Advocating for more effective food aid

In 2005, following advocacy efforts led by the Foodgrains Bank, the Canadian government agreed to allow 50 percent of government food aid funds to be used to buy food closer to areas of need in developing countries. This change, known as untying aid, saved money, time and provided support for farmers in developing countries.

Complete untying of food aid

In 2008, the Government of Canada updated this rule again, making it possible for the Foodgrains Bank to use 100 percent of government funds to buy food closer to the area of need in developing countries. This not only improves the timeliness of delivery in emergency situations it reduces costs, ensures the right type of food is provided, and supports local farmers.