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Food banks... how do they help?

Food banksIn keeping with its policy of supporting local charitable organisations, Almancil International Rotary Club AIRC) has donated €500 to the Banco Alimentar (food bank) based in Faro.   At a recent meeting of the club Susana Guerreiro (BA public image coordinator) spoke about the work of the food bank and the constant need for funds. It isn’t until someone like Susana explains just how much the food bank does that we can really appreciate the enormity of the problems, financial needs and logistics they face. 

"Since the creation of the BA Algarve which is based in Faro it has distributed some 2,800 tons of food supplies in the district.  With the help of 126 charitable institutions the food is distributed to 22,000 people.  Portugal currently has 20 food banks with the one in Faro being the 4th biggest.  Although it delivers approximately 30kg to each assisted person per year, BA Algarve has the lowest per capita supply of food.  The average for other food banks is 90kg per person per year.
With the donations of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Algarve not being sufficient to meet needs, at the beginning of July this year agreement was reached with donors in the north of the country to provide fruit and vegetables and in the four months since then 110 tons of fruit has been delivered free of charge to the Algarve.  However, the BA has to pay to return the packaging to the donors which they anticipate will cost €4,800 annually plus a further €900 per year.   Sra Susana told us that as well as the donors of the fruit and vegetables, the bank has found a ‘God parent’, Plastidom which manufactures plastic containers and they have agreed to donate the sum of €2,400 euros.
In addition to fruit and vegetables and with the help of one of their partners and yet another God parent, the BA is embarking on a monthly collection of 5 tons of fish and shellfish to increase its distribution to 60 tons per year.  This is fish that is caught but remains unsold and which would normally be put back into the sea.  In order to store and deliver the fish it was necessary to purchase 1,000 re-usable boxes at a cost of €8,450 euros.  Of course they also need money to cover transportation costs which is why we like to support them whenever we can.
L-R: AIRC President Dr Raymond Parfait, Sra Susana Guerreiro - Banco Alimentar, and Peter Hinze – AIRC Community Services Chairman Peter HinzeWhat has really surprised us is that in 2012 and 2013 the BA approached every city council in the Algarve to make a small donation.  In total 16 city Councils were approached.  The councils of Faro and Portimão generously provided storage facilities and pay electricity and water bills but the only cash donation received in 2013 was from the Council of Loulè (€750). In 2012, of all 16 councils there were six contributions of a total of €2,000. Considering the service the BA provide I find this shocking”.
In thanking AIRC for their donation, the President and Director of the BA Nuno Cabrita Alves said “thank you for the offer of Euro 500 which is important not just for the amount itself but especially for the fact that you have acted when others, with a political and moral obligation to do so, did not”.
BA collects food twice a year from local supermarkets, the second of which took place last weekend.  Several AIRC members have signed up to help them but volunteers are always welcome as are donations which can be made on their website www.alimentestaideia.net

For further details of AIRC please contact president@rotaryalmancil.org or see www.rotaryalmancil.org.

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