Beyond a neoliberal critique of hunger: a genealogy of food charity in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Springer Nature
Since the 1980s, foodbanks have become a widespread solution to addressing hunger within high-income countries. The primary reason for their establishment has been widely recognised as neoliberal policies, particularly those that led to massive cuts in social welfare assistance. Foodbanks and hunger have subsequently been framed within a neoliberal critique. However, we argue that critiques of foodbanks are not unique to neoliberalism but have deeper historical roots, meaning that the part neoliberal policies have played is not as clear-cut. In order to understand the normalisation of foodbanks within society, and gain a more extensive understanding of hunger and appreciation as to how this issue could be addressed, it is therefore important to gain a historical understanding of food charity development. In this article, we achieve this by presenting a genealogy of food charity within Aotearoa New Zealand, which witnessed a fluctuation in the use of soup kitchens during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a rise of foodbanks in the 1980s and ‘90 s. Highlighting the historical parallels and major economic and cultural shifts that have allowed for the institutionalisation of foodbanks, we explore the patterns, parallels and differences exposed, and how they yield an alternative understanding of hunger. Using this analysis, we then discuss the wider implications of the historical foundations of food charity and hunger to better understand the role neoliberalism has played in the entrenchment of foodbanks, and advocate the importance of looking beyond a neoliberal critique in order to entertain alternative solutions to addressing food insecurity.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agriculture and Human Values, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: Aotearoa New Zeland; food banks; food chairty; neolibralism; soup kitchens.
Riol, K.S.E.C., Connelly, S. Beyond a neoliberal critique of hunger: a genealogy of food charity in Aotearoa New Zealand. Agric Hum Values (2023).