Kortetmäki, T., & Silvasti, T. (2018). Food Assistance. In P. B. Thompson, & D. M. Kaplan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (Living edition.). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_613-1
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018
Food assistance and food charity refer to practices where public, private, or third sector actors provide food (or resources to acquire food) to individuals or households that face hunger or food shortage. The food is provided for free or for a minimal cost and the provision is conducted through varying services like food banks. Domestic food assistance practices are realized in relations between a collective (the provider or donor) and individuals (the recipients of the assistance). For those international practices of food aid that take place between collectives, typically nations or global food aid organizations and recipient countries, see the entry for Food aid. Currently, approximately 800 million people in the world are undernourished and even more lack food security. According to FAO (2015), food security exists when “all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. The practice of providing food or resources to acquire food to needy individuals or households is probably almost as old as the history of the civilization yet its institutionalized forms are relatively new. Nowadays, the organized forms of food assistance are widespread. Numerous international, national, and regional organizations participate in the food provision activities and there is a great variation in how, where, and by whom the food is provided for those in need. In this entry, food assistance refers more specifically to the social and public policy measures exercised by the public sector, whereas food charity denotes those activities that are conducted by third sector organizations (including religious communities) or business enterprises. The main difference between the two is that the public sector may have obligations that are determined and regulated by eformal, usually democratically negotiated norms related to social security. In contrast, the third sector and business actors decide their practices and norms on their own (within the limits of allowed practices), and the third sector practices are based on voluntary participation. From the ethical viewpoint, the difference between the public and non-public actors is important. Many of the ethical aspects regarding food assistance and food charity are closely related to the fundamental points of morality: the equal dignity of all human beings and the idea of universal human rights that includes the right to food due to its vitality for human life. This entry begins with a characterization of the relation between some general moral principles and the provision of food for hungry people. After that, the entry focuses in more details to the ethical considerations that regard food assistance (provided by the public sector) and food charity (provided by the third and private sector) in its different forms. For further ethical considerations on the latter, see the entry for The Ethics of Food Charity. ...
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