sg 16(10): e4

Research Article

The Allocation of Food to Food Banks

  • @ARTICLE{10.4108/eai.8-8-2015.2261169,
        author={Canice Prendergast},
        title={The Allocation of Food to Food Banks},
        journal={EAI Endorsed Transactions on Serious Games},
        keywords={market design, food banks},
  • Canice Prendergast
    Year: 2015
    The Allocation of Food to Food Banks
    DOI: 10.4108/eai.8-8-2015.2261169
Canice Prendergast1,*
  • 1: The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
*Contact email:


Food banks throughout the U.S. provide nutrition to the needy. Yet the food that is distributed through food banks often originates with donors - large manufacturers or distributors - far from those needy clients. How that food is distributed to food banks across the country is the subject of this essay. An informal description is given of an innovation introduced in 2005 by America's Second Harvest (now called Feeding America) that would better allow food bank preferences to be reflected in their allocations. Specifically, Feeding America transitioned from the centralized allocation process, where they would make decisions based on their perception of food bank need, to one where local affiliates would bid for food items. To do so, Feeding America constructed a specialized constructed currency called "shares" that are used to bid on loads of donated food. The process by which this change came about, its necessary idiosyncrasies, and its outcomes are described.