Three main purposes of food reserves are distinguished:
(a) Emergency reserves to supply food distributions;
(b) Stabilization reserves to prevent excessive price fluctuations; and
(c) Social safety net stocks to provide working stocks for recurrent food distributions. However, in practice one agency is often tasked with addressing multiple objectives.
For each of the three main types of reserve the paper examines:
(a) Conceptually how the reserves may contribute to food security;
(b) Evidence on the operations and outcomes;
(c) Evidence on the food security consequences; and
(d) Considers the comparative effectiveness of alternative policy instruments.