Food is a valuable Consumable in The Division that players can scavenge for. Although not necessary for life, eating it will give the player temporary buffs. It can also be traded on the Black Market.
"It's important for us that it's not a "harsh" survival game. While finding food and water will be important in the game, you won't starve or die if you don't come across them."
When asked if food and water was necessary this is what developers had to say:
"Exploration is very important in the world of The Division. Using anything you might come across in NYC will be important, and that includes the basics of food and water. However, we are not a survival simulator, we are still an RPG with the G standing for game. So with that in mind we wanted food and water to be important for you as a player, but not a necessity. So these will act as temporary “buffs” or stat increases which will improve not only your combat prowess for short periods of time, but also help you with other activities in the game."