With its partners at Rotary International, members of the Rotary Club Estoi Palace International have just made a huge difference to hungry families across the Algarve.
The fundraising and donating of a brand new refrigerated truck to the Banco Alimentar Contra Fome (Food Bank) in Faro will enable more food to be collected and distributed to the Algarve's thousands of families living below the poverty line.
The official handover saw delighted Food Bank volunteers mingle with Rotarians and well-wishers to witness the hand over of the keys to the Food Bank's director, Nuno Alves, seen in the picture with Claire Larson and Shirley Dunne, Past President and President of Rotary Club Estoi Palace International.
The Estoi Club started its first community project in the local Estoi parish, to fund, purchase and distribute additional milk to the monthly food parcels distributed by the Food Bank to poor families with children.
Milk was chosen for the supplement because the club particularly wanted to benefit children but as the recession took hold the need to help feed adults became evident.
Several months after the milk project began the Food Bank, based in a warehouse in Faro, began a programme of collecting used paper for recycling to raise more funds to keep going - its fuel bill alone is €12,000 a year.
Rotary Club Estoi Palace International swiftly purchased the portable scales needed to weigh in the paper but the expansion of its food distribution services was being held back for the want of a vehicle that could collect and distribute surplus and unwanted food from supermarkets and distributors at safe, low temperatures.
In April 2012, an American Rotarian suggested to the Estoi Palace then-President Claire Larson that a ‘matching grant’ might be possible. This is a Rotary Foundation scheme that allows qualified Rotary clubs to work with other clubs and Rotary districts to apply for funds for larger projects. A high percentage of the funding could therefore come directly from The Rotary Foundation headquartered in Chicago.
Rotary Estoi Palace International formally agreed to develop a funding plan to buy and donate a refrigerated truck to the Banco Alimentar Contra Fome to help boost its services to provide food to poor families in the Algarve region. Over €42,000 was needed.
The project was summarised thus –
‘The regional Food Bank of the Algarve presently serves 16,000 people every month, via 73 charitable institutions in the Algarve region of Portugal. There are 13 institutions, involving approximately 4,000 people, on the waiting list to join the program. The Food Bank is organised and staffed by volunteers, most of whom are Portuguese. All food donations are currently delivered to the Faro warehouse as the Food Bank does not have a refrigerated truck to pick up perishable items that could be donated by supermarkets. This project is to provide such a vehicle. It is estimated that this vehicle could collect 1 metric ton of perishable food items each day, or a total of 250 metric tons per year.’
A few months later, the total value of the project was approved at €42.300.
Over the following months, partnerships were made. A Rotary club in Texas, followed by a Rotary District in the same state, then a club in West Virginia started to raise funds. An international group of wine-loving Rotarians joined the list of fundraising supporters. Funds were raised in the Algarve as well - a golf day and a winetasting dinner helped swell the incoming tide of donations.
By early 2013, the project was just €11,500 short of success and then, as if by magic (and with the assistance of the local Rotary District Governor) a Rotary district in Brasil lent its support and the target finally was reached.
The funding was in place and the vehicle was ordered from Italy. On 28th August, 2013, more than 16 months after the plan was hatched, the refrigerated truck was formally delivered and handed over to the Food Bank at a relaxed and deeply moving occasion at the Food Bank warehouse supported by Rotarian top brass, Faro’s mayor Macario Correia, Food Bank volunteers, press and members of the public.
This type of well executed initiative is a credit to the local Rotarian movement that defined a key need, worked hard and smart to identify funding sources and achieved its target. Estoi paid tribute to its sister Rotary Clubs across the Algarve who wholeheartedly supported and fundraised to help the poor in the Algarve community. Ed.
For an RTP TV report, including a statement from Shirley Dunne, see: