Tackling food insecurity and community hunger

Reimagining how to deliver more nutritious and more dignified services for those in need

An estimated 40 million Americans face food insecurity despite government interventions, private sector support, and personal contributions to the charitable food system. When the national food insecurity challenge became a crisis as a result of the global pandemic, McKinsey rushed pro bono resources to support critical not-for-profits, such as Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America, meet accelerating demand. We are committed to playing our part in creating an inclusive economy, and partnered with these organizations and 15+ major food banks to reimagine what it would look like to deliver more nutritious and more dignified services for those in need.

Overall, these organizations have collectively served more than 5 billion meals and impacted the lives of more than 45 million Americans since the pandemic began. This insight collection draws together McKinsey’s latest thinking on tackling some of the most pressing challenges facing food banks and related non-profits.

Featured Story

Expanding services for food insecure families in the Nation’s Capital

Learn how a food bank is meeting the challenge of food insecurity in Washington DC and going beyond to address root causes. McKinsey is working with Capital Area Food Bank to deploy its ‘Food+’ strategy, bringing together community partners that have complementary skills and offerings to help fulfill this mission.

Fighting community hunger in Chicago

The U.S. has experienced a 50% surge in demand for food support since the pandemic began. The collaborative efforts of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, New Life Centers, and McKinsey are making a difference in providing nutritious meals to those in need. Watch the first in our video series that tells the story of a resilient, innovative and compassionate group of community leaders dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable people in Chicago's suburbs.

Spotlight: Social responsibility in action

Article

Food banks apply 2020 lessons to plan for their future

– Food organizations bring experience, analytics, and other advantages to the forefront in 2021, ensuring they are better prepared than they were before the pandemic.
Article

Turning over a new leaf: Using crisis to build back stronger

– Nationwide, food banks seek to expand their services to address more than hunger; one Washington, DC, food bank is using the loss of its partner network to do just that.
Article

Divide and conquer: How segmentation helps with food security

– To meet surging demand, one food bank created specific plans for separate food sources and drop-off sites in order to get resources into the community as fast as possible with a minimum of waste.
Article

Making a difference with data: What it can mean for food banks

– Using data to forecast food insecurity helped one food bank prepare for the worst.

Featured Insights

Where are vulnerable populations, including those who are experiencing food insecurity, located in the United States?

In this interactive map from McKinsey's Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare, see where vulnerable populations are located and use data to inform solutions to address their needs.
Article

Transforming food banks’ warehouse operations to improve critical performance

– As the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardizes livelihoods as well as human health, there has never been a greater need for efficiency within food banks, on which more and more people depend. Warehousing activities offer room for real improvement.
Interactive

McKinsey for Kids: (Food) waste not, want not

– In this edition of McKinsey for Kids, see why throwing away food is a bigger problem than you think—and what McKinsey and others are doing to help reduce food waste so more people can fill their bellies.
Article - McKinsey Quarterly

Feeding the world sustainably

– Green technologies, biotech advances, and artificial intelligence could help tame agricultural emissions and waste, while safeguarding ocean resources.
Article

US food supply chain: Disruptions and implications from COVID-19

– Changes in consumer behavior continue to ripple through the US food and agricultural supply chains. What should companies do now?

Featured Webinar

Tackling the post-pandemic food security crisis in North America

This video delves into how food banks and food security nonprofits across the country are preparing themselves for the postpandemic environment based on lessons learned in 2020. Panelists include Kate Maehr (Executive Director and CEO of Greater Chicago Food Depository), Jody Tick (Chief Operating Officer at Capital Area Food Bank), Matt Jozwiak (CEO of Rethink Food) and Ellie Hollander (President & CEO of Meals on Wheels America).

Featured interviews

Interview

Challenges and opportunities facing food banks under COVID-19

– Greater Chicago Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr looks back on 2020, the challenge of rising food insecurity, and ways the private sector can get involved.
Interview

How the charitable food system is adapting to life under the pandemic

– Feeding America COO Katie Fitzgerald reflects on how food banks have responded to challenges of COVID-19, and lessons learned in the process.
Interview

Food security and the coronavirus crisis: A view from Feeding America’s COO

– Katie Fitzgerald discusses the efforts of Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization, to obtain and distribute food amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Perspectives from other regions

Article

Safeguarding Africa’s food systems through and beyond the crisis

– Here’s how governments and private-sector actors can respond to the impact of COVID-19 on African agriculture.
Report

Food security in Japan: Building a strategy in an age of global competition

– The country faces a set of agricultural challenges in its move toward a more secure food supply, which can be addressed with a focus on five actions.
Article

Harvesting golden opportunities in Indian agriculture: From food security to farmers’ income security by 2025

– Several megatrends may drive the next wave of growth in Indian agriculture. Focusing on a number of investible themes could enhance farmers' incomes and transform their quality of life.

A focus on value chains

Report - McKinsey Global Institute

Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains

– Companies need an understanding of their exposure, vulnerabilities, and potential losses to inform resilience strategies.
Article

Agriculture sector: Preparing for disruption in the food value chain

– Four trends could profoundly influence the direction of the agriculture industry. Stakeholders, from farmers to governments, must take account of them in their planning.
Article

Agriculture supply-chain optimization and value creation

– Digital and analytics technologies offer a way to create value by optimizing the supply chain in agriculture.

From our blog

Blog Post

Behind Roberto Uchoa’s work to fight hunger and strengthen food banks

– Meet a senior partner who helps food banks better serve their communities through analytics, reskilling, and more.
Blog Post

Pradeep Prabhala: Fighting hunger today and strengthening food security for the long term

– From the biotech design of food to the delivery of dinners, a partner shares how our firm is working to strengthen food... security.
Blog Post

Partnering with Rethink Food to create a more equitable U.S. food system

– With more Americans facing food insecurity, a McKinsey team based in New York City helped create a program to safely feed people... while keeping restaurants running.

Related insight

Opinion: Hunger in Washington state

In this Agri-Pulse op-ed, McKinsey’s Denise Cheung and Dilip Wagle look at the dynamics of food insecurity in Washington state in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
Article - McKinsey Global Institute

Will the world’s breadbaskets become less reliable?

– The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing vulnerabilities in the global food system which could be compounded by climate change risks.

Featured Experts

Senior Partner, Chicago

Roberto Uchoa

Partner, Minneapolis

David Fiocco

Partner, Miami

Ignacio Felix

Senior Partner, New York

Ramesh Srinivasan

Partner, Washington DC

Jessica P. Kahn

Partner, Washington DC

Pradeep Prabhala

Related Practices

Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare

The Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare was established to deploy McKinsey’s global capabilities and resources to historically under-resourced areas of healthcare that are critical to the benefit of society. The Center collaborates with other organizations to drive positive innovation to improve overall health and well-being and reduce healthcare disparities, and is committed to sharing resources, innovations, data, and findings in the public domain so others can replicate what proves effective.

Agriculture

Helping agriculture and food companies and systems navigate disruptive trends and technologies

Public & Social Sector

Improving the lives of citizens worldwide by helping solve the most pressing economic and social challenges