On April 3, 2012, Second Harvest Asia Chair Charles McJilton visited the Food Bank Korea in South Korea. The Korea National Council on Social Welfare (SSN) began food banking in January 1998 in response to the IMF crisis. They began a pilot project in four areas (Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and Gwacheon). In 2000, they created Central Food Bank (national coordinating body) to coordinate the development of food banking. They currently have 16 metropolitan-level food banks, 279 local-level food banks, and 127 food markets in the country.

Food bank Korea Central Distribution Center

The Food Bank Korea Central Distribution Center located in the center of the country. You can see logo has “1688-1377.” Both donors and recipients can dial this phone number anywhere in Korea and their call will automatically be transferred to the nearest food bank.

Inside of the Warehouse of the Central Distribution Center

Inside of the warehouse of the central distribution center. More than 700 pallets of food can be stored here.

A Small Truck that Serves the Food Market in Mapo, Seoul

A small truck that serves the food market in Mapo, Seoul.  

Food Market

Food Market: Designated recipients can visitonce a month and choose five items. They can also receive “bonus” items such as drinks, bread, produce, and frozen items when these are available. To become a designated recipient, one must first apply with the food market and then be interviewed by a local government official who will verify there is a need.
South Korea’s food bank system is highly advanced, and we believe food banks in Asia could learn a great deal from South Korea’s model.
You can download Charles’ full report here.

Second Harvest Asia will develop the regional food bank network in Asia to share best practices and experiences with other food banks. We hold online meetings regularly with Asian food bank members. If you are interested in joining our regional network, please contact us at info@secondharvestasia.org.