The European Community (EC) is second only to the USA as a food aid donor, globally accounting for 20% of commodities and a third of donor expenditure. Community aid is organised by the EC Commission and the remainder bilaterally by the twelve member states. This paper quantifies the main features of the EC food aid programmes, concentrating on the effects of the policies of the Community and member states; on the level, composition and destination of food aid flows. Particular emphasis is placed on comparisons between the various programmes and the extent to which they duplicate or complement each other. The aggregate consequences of actual programmes for global food security are examined. They are also compared with the pattern of flows which would have resulted had the Community programme been mirrored by that of each member state programme. This scenario illustrates the possible consequence of 'convergence' of EC food aid programmes, over-riding the specific factors influencing individual EC member state programmes.